How the Wisconsin Energy-Integrys deal benefits Chicago customers: (crickets)

The headline in Crain’s Chicago Business says it all:

What’s the sale of Integrys do for Chicago? Not much

Yesterday, Wisconsin Energy announced that it was buying Integrys, the parent company of Chicago-area utilities Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, in a $9.1 billion deal.

But for a company pulling the corporate headquarters from Chicago, Wisconsin Energy hasn’t produced any consumer concessions to make nice with the Illinois Commerce Commission. (The ICC has to approve the deal along with a bunch of other state and federal regulators.)

“We want to make sure consumers are protected,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata told Crain’s reporter Steve Daniels. “We haven’t seen any concessions offered. That’s a little bit unusual.”

In this age of merger mania, consumer advocates are always concerned that consolidation will lead to a decrease in customer service and an increase in rates. “We will be quick to point out any shortcomings and propose improvements to make this a better deal for Chicago-area consumers,” Kolata said in a CUB’s statement.

While we have to analyze the proposed acquisition carefully, our confidence isn’t boosted by the fact that Peoples Gas and North Shore are charging the highest gas rates in the state right now, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Plus, the Peoples and North Shore have gotten about $250 million in rate hikes since 2008–and they’re asking for another $136 million right now.

And Daniels reminds us all that just last year Peoples led the charge for a new state law to impose a surcharge on customers’ gas bills to more quickly be compensated for infrastructure improvement programs.

To put it simply: Give Chicago gas customers break! Recent deals involving Nicor and ComEd included benefits like a three-year rate freeze, even $100 million in rate rebates. How about making pro-consumer concessions part of the Integrys sale?

Rate relief, please!


About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
This entry was posted in Natural Gas, Nicor, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas, Peoples Gas, Rate hike. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How the Wisconsin Energy-Integrys deal benefits Chicago customers: (crickets)

  1. Crystal says:

    Excuse me while I collect my farts in a can.

  2. Sorry to be the “bearer of bad news” but Natural Gas prices are only going to climb and climb, despite popular belief. The majority of the 100 yrs+ of LNG from last “Dash for Gas” is foreign owned. Why did the “Polar Vortex” hurt the U.S. if we have 100+ LNG. It does not belong to us, like the windmills belong to the World Bank(s).

    Look at FERC’s graph Gas prices have a long way to go after Massive US Exportation balances World Gas Market (5 to 10 yr plan).

    Note. Natural Gas is the Commodity traded to purchase electric credits at auctions. Like Gold, prices need to keep climbing so World Market can hold together; so does Natural Gas. Big business will keep getting filthy rich. But the common man/woman will not get any long-term breaks.

    Profit/savings will mainly be in electric committees. This is why Wisconsin Energy is picking up Integry’s remaining portfolio. Gas suppliers/brokers, like NICOR Electric make more profit in electric. And they can not guarantee savings or lack of risk; Too volatile. Like David Kolata quoted on in 2011, “Nicor Electic might not be able to compete in ele.”.

    The answer to Natural Gas. Just stay with Utility Rate. Less 3rd party markup, transport fees and other unknowns. By the way… electric “energy” costs are made up of 20 different variables. This is why the largest of suppliers are going bust.

    Good news… there is still hope for your budget protection and market education.

Comments are closed.