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October Natural Gas Prices More Than Double 2020 Rates

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Illinois natural gas utilities are charging more than double their 2020 prices, according to preliminary filings. Natural gas prices have been on the rise since early 2021, causing growing concern as winter weather draws near.

The Citizens Utility Board reports increases in natural gas prices for most gas utilities in Illinois.

Current natural gas prices are one of the lingering effects of an extreme cold snap that brought record-low temperatures across the nation this past February. The extreme weather, attributed to climate change, froze natural gas pipelines and wellheads in Texas and other areas of the South, limiting supply across the country just as heating demand was shooting up. 

The limited supply coupled with high demand resulted in skyrocketing market prices. Utilities in Illinois for most of the year have been charging high natural gas prices — this month, most are charging about double or triple prices from 2020.

Citizens Utility Board

The Daily Herald reports on increases in Nicor rates in interviews with David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-based consumer watchdog, and Nicor spokeswoman Jennifer Golz.

In general, natural gas prices also have risen because of issues related to supply and demand as the economy has recovered from the pandemic, Kolata said.

“We’re still in the pandemic, but when things were really, really slow, a lot of production of gas kind of was scaled back,” he said. “And so when you put a growing, if not perfect, economy together with these supply constraints and then you have these exogenous shocks like the Texas extreme cold and Hurricane Ida, it can raise prices.”

Nicor spokeswoman Jennifer Golz also cited an “unforeseen increase” in gas costs due to the February winter storms for the company’s heating bill projections.

“Our estimate also accounts for increasing market prices of the commodity,” Golz said.

Daily Herald

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