No more automatic increases to your gas bill

Rider QIP, a state law that allowed gas utilities to increase customer bills with a monthly surcharge, has finally come to an end. But the fight is not over yet.

Peoples Gas | Public Domain

As of January 1st, the state law that permitted gas utilities to continually hike customers’ bills through a surcharge and waste billions of dollars on unnecessary infrastructure has expired.

Rider QIP, listed as Qualified Infrastructure Plant charge on your bill, allowed Peoples Gas, Ameren, and Nicor to automatically raise customer bills through a bill surcharge to pay for certain types of infrastructure investment. By circumventing the normal regulatory process, this incentivized utilities to aggressively raise costs to customers for increased infrastructure spending.

Now that this law has expired, gas utilities can no longer immediately and automatically increase customers’ bills in this manner. Utility regulators at the Illinois Commerce Commission are able to exercise more regulatory authority through traditional rate cases and is now investigating Peoples Gas’ wasteful pipe replacement program – which the Commission previously stated it could not regulate because of QIP law.

However, the fight over QIP is not over. Peoples Gas still has eight annual QIP reviews to process. These annual reviews cover roughly $200M of the $300M rate hike approved in November and present an opportunity to claw back more money for customers and lower rates going forward. Under previous Commissions, these reviews were little more than accounting exercises, always approving the utilities’ spending – but that changed last summer when the newly constituted Commission rejected $31 million of wasteful spending by suburban utility Nicor.

With eight pending Peoples Gas annual QIP reviews remaining, there is an opportunity to identify and reject wasteful spending, grant refunds to consumers, and lower rates going forward.

Jordan Hamrick
Jordan Hamrick

Former Utility Watchdog Campaigner, Illinois PIRG

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