A bad deal for Illinois ratepayers:
An Illinois law, known as “QIP,” is giving gas utilities a blank check to waste billions of dollars on unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure. The gas utilities said they needed the blank check to make urgent safety repairs, but utilities like Peoples Gas, Nicor, and Ameren are spending money to replace perfectly safe pipes.
When utilities spend money like this, we pay for it through higher bills. For example, after decades of steady rates, suburban utility Nicor Gas raised rates by 77% in under 4 years. And the spending is costing Peoples Gas customers in Chicago more than $15 a month. That’s hitting many households hard this winter as gas prices are also spiking.
That’s why Illinois PIRG is working to convince the legislature to cancel the gas utilities’ blank check this year.
To combat climate change we know we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels like “natural” gas, which is made of methane. We should be making investments in clean energy solutions, not paying for more pollution. Cities like Chicago are preparing for the transition – Chicago recently announced a goal of heating 30% of residential homes with electricity by 2035. And it’s easier than ever for individual homeowners to go electric thanks to new incentives in the inflation reduction act.
But to make the transition, the first thing we need to do is stop wasting our money on unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure.
How we plan to stop this bad deal
The QIP law is set to expire at the end of 2023 but gas utilities and their allies are fighting to extend it another 10 years. We can stop them if we build enough grassroots support. Governor Pritzker is already behind our call to end the law in 2020, but we need to make sure there is enough support so he can veto any legislation to extend the QIP law or otherwise incentivizes wasteful gas utility spending.
Illinois PIRG has led the campaign to end the QIP law for years. We published an in depth report in 2019 on the problems with the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program and how the QIP law shields it from accountability. We’ve built a coalition of 50 environmental, consumer and community groups, and have won the support of Governor Pritzker, Attorney General Raoul, and Chicago Mayor Lightfoot.
If we win, we can stop the utilities from wasting billions of ratepayer dollars, lower our heating bills and accelerate the transition to cleaner, healthier energy.
State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG
Abe Scarr is the director of Illinois PIRG and is the PIRG Energy and Utilities Program Director. He is a lead advocate in the Illinois Capitol and in the media for stronger consumer protections, utility accountability, and good government. In 2017, Abe led a coalition to pass legislation to implement automatic voter registration in Illinois, winning unanimous support in the Illinois General Assembly for the bill. He has co-authored multiple in-depth reports on Illinois utility policy and leads coalition campaigns to reform the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program. As PIRG's Energy and Utilities Program Director, Abe supports PIRG energy and utility campaigns across the country and leads the national Gas Stoves coalition. He also serves as a board member for the Consumer Federation of America. Abe lives in Chicago, where he enjoys biking, cooking and tending his garden.