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Peoples Gas files larger rate hike request, cites city rules, safety


Peoples Gas explains its monthly charges are made up of several charges, some of which are a flat rate and some of which are charged by volume, meaning based on how much natural gas is used:

 Customer charge (flat rate) $22.06

 Distribution (by volume) about 26 cents a therm first 50 therms...

... about 12 cents a therm over 50 therms

 Storage charge (by volume) about 4 cents a therm

 Gas charge (by volume) about 41 cents a therm*

*November rate. Peoples passes along the price of gas at cost.

Source: Peoples Gas

Updated: December 15, 2012 6:17AM

Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas customers could be hit with an even bigger rate hike.

The natural gas utilities, which in July filed requests with state regulators to boost rates $88 million, has upped that request to $115.2 million. Integrys is the parent company of Peoples and North Shore.

If approved, the request would raise the average Peoples Gas customer bill $8.40 a month, vs. the roughly $6.50 a month increase that the original rate request would have prompted if it were OKd, said Integrys spokeswoman Jennifer Block.

The request would raise North Shore Gas customers’ bills roughly $5 a month, up from the nearly $4 a month under the original request, she said.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office plans to file testimony next week to oppose the rate increase. “At a time when ratepayers are already struggling to pay their monthly bills, an increase of this size is excessive and completely out of line,” Madigan’s office said in a statement.

Of the $115.2 million, $102.7 million is for Peoples Gas customers, up from $78.3 million, and $12.5 million is for North Shore Gas customers, up from $9.7 million.

The increases are due to the cost of adhering to new regulations from the city Department of Transportation, costs associated with a public safety campaign designed to avoid natural gas accidents during sewer work in part by keeping gas pipes from crossing sewer pipes, and its 20-year $2.5 billion Chicago pipe replacement program, Block said.

Block noted roughly $20 million of the Peoples Gas increase is related to day-to-day operations and maintenance costs, with the rest linked to the pipe replacement program. All of the North Shore Gas increase reflects operations and maintenance costs, she said.

Block said the utility was required by law to file its request in July and had the flexibility to adjust its request.

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