As a Chicago renter who only uses natural gas to cook, I’ve often asked, “Why is my bill $50!?” I only use a few therms a month, and gas prices are in the neighborhood of 50 cents a therm—relatively low compared to past years.
I’m hoping that’s about to change. One of the silver linings to a recent $64 million rate hike is that non-heating customers like me will actually see their bills go down.
Until this month, residential Peoples and North Shore Gas customers paid a flat “customer charge” of about $22 a month—that’s before they used any gas at all.
For non-heating customers, who are typically billed bi-monthly, that customer charge made up the bulk of the bill.
Under the new rate structure, however, I’ll pay a customer charge of about $14—a savings of around $8 a month, or $16 on the bi-monthly bill. That’s good news for me and other non-heating customers.
But CUB is still appealing the rate hike, because we thought it was excessive. In fact, our analysis shows Peoples Gas owes its customers a rate cut of nearly $2 million. Unfortunately, the current ruling means Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas heating customers will see their customer charges increase to about $27 and $24, respectively.
While non-heating customers will see an increase in the distribution charge—the per-therm charge for the delivery of the natural gas itself—that increase is far outweighed by the decrease in the customer charge.
See CUB’s fact sheet for a full listing of Illinois natural gas rates.