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Gas bills set to edge up beginning Jan. 29

Chicago-area residents will see their gas bills go up starting Jan. 29 after the Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday approved rate increases for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.

Bills will go up about $2.75 a month for Peoples Gas customers and $1.10 a month for North Shore Gas customers. The rate increases are smaller than the utilities’ parent company requested.

The commission voted 3-1 to grant Peoples Gas a $74.8 million delivery rate increase. Commissioner Miguel del Valle voting against the rate increase, saying he believed “more could be done to lessen the impact and make it fairer to ratepayers.”

Peoples first asked for a $129 million increase and scaled it back to $100 million.

The commission also approved a $3.7 million increase for North Shore Gas, which serves 159,000 customers throughout the northern suburbs.

The utilities are run by parent company Integrys.

The ICC rejected Integrys’ request to increase its fixed fees, which the utility argues it needs to recover the majority of its expenses for basic work such as maintaining meters, gas mains and infrastructure.

Consumer watchdog Citizens Utility Board said it would challenge portions of the rate increase and petition for a rehearing.

“CUB is pleased that the ICC reduced the company’s rate increase request by more than 30 percent, but that’s cold comfort to consumers trying to pay the bills through another expensive winter,” CUB said in a press release.

“In total, Peoples and North Shore Gas have received more than $250 million in rate increases since 2008, and their parent company is expected to make more than $240 million in 2014 profits when those final numbers are announced. Chicago consumers deserve a break from their gas company.”