Last winter’s polar vortex blast sparked a jump in Illinois natural gas prices that ranged from 9-80 percent. Now, about a half-year later, the gas prices are finally coming down to more normal levels–just as another winter approaches.
We’ll keep an eye on the weather reports–it looks like it might not be as bad as last winter (fingers crossed)–and the gas prices (aka the “PGAs”–or purchased gas adjustments).
Here’s what the gas utilities say they will charge in October, the opening month of the winter heating season (October through March).
Nicor Gas: 45 cents per therm (Worst “polar vortex” rate: 68 cents per therm, March-August)
Peoples Gas: 48.73 cents per therm (Worst “polar vortex” rate: $1.19 per therm, April)
North Shore Gas: 55.83 cents per therm (Worst “polar vortex” rate: $1.21 per therm, April)
Ameren: 59.09 cents per therm (Worst “polar vortex” rate: 66.20 cents per therm, June)
Peoples and North Shore Gas get the 2014 award for bad timing, announcing their biggest supply price spikes at the same time they pushed for a $100+ million delivery rate hike.
Remember, the utility companies are not allowed to profit off the supply part of our bills–only the delivery. The companies are legally obligated to secure the lowest prices possible. That’s why CUB called for an investigation of the Peoples/North Shore PGA increase.
Nicor customers saw a 33 percent increase in gas prices, but the utility seems to have taken a different approach, avoiding more spikes by keeping the price at 68 cents per therm for five straight months–something CUB has never seen before.
Nicor told us that in light of the harsh winter and price volatility last winter, the utility “under-collected in its purchased gas costs” for several months. “In lieu of immediately raising the PGA, Nicor Gas felt a more moderate but longer recovery of the under-collected amounts was the best approach,” the utility said.
For a detailed look at your gas utility’s pricing history, see CUB’s Natural Gas Price Checker.