December gas rates are higher

December was the first month new rates went into effect after the four major gas rate hikes. This is why your bill may be more expensive.

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Your December gas may have been higher than you anticipated. Peoples Gas, North Shore, Ameren, and Nicor pushed for massive rate hikes this past year. Even though the Illinois Commerce Commission reduced the rate hikes, the cost to customers has still gone up. For all but North Shore Gas, the new increased gas rates have gone into effect and the first bills have just been sent out. 

The fixed customer charge – the amount you pay each month no matter how much gas you use –  was reduced for each utility except Ameren. As a result of this, and because of the overall rate increases, your distribution charge – the amount you pay to the utility to deliver gas, based on how much gas you use – is higher.  If you don’t change the amount of gas you use, this will mean that your summer bills, when you use less gas, will be generally lower, while bills during the colder winter months, when you use more gas, will generally be higher. Importantly, because more of your bill is determined by your level of usage, you can lower your bill through energy efficiency and conservation. 

This December has been one of the warmest Decembers ever in Chicago so you are likely using less gas than you did last year. The cost of gas, which spiked in 2022 through early 2023, is lower this year as well. This means that some customers may not have seen a dramatic change to their gas bill compared to last year despite the rate hike. However, because the utilities are charging more to deliver gas to your home, once the temperature drops or if the price of gas increases, your bill could rise significantly.

Reducing your gas use and improving the energy efficiency of your home and appliances will save you money on your future gas bills. Lowering your thermostat and water heater temperature are easy ways to save. Investing in home weatherization like fixing insulation and sealing leaks in doors and windows will improve your home’s overall efficiency and save you money in summer as well. You can also take advantage of utility and federal incentives to replace gas appliances with highly efficient electric appliances.

Illinois offers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for customers struggling to afford their bills. Additionally, Peoples Gas, North Shore, Ameren, and Nicor each have their own bill assistance programs. 

We are going to continue to see the effects of the rate hikes on our bills as winter moves along. You can read more about how the gas rate hikes will affect your bill and beyond.

Jordan Hamrick
Jordan Hamrick

Former Utility Watchdog Campaigner, Illinois PIRG


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