If Approved, New Rates Would Not Take Effect Until 2015
Waukegan, IL - North Shore Gas announced today that the company is seeking an increase in the amount it charges to deliver natural gas to customers. If approved, the proposed rate increase would be about $2.50 a month on average for typical residential heating customers, and would not take effect until next year. The proposed rate adjustment filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission is the first step in an 11-month regulatory review process.
"The harsh Chicago winter we're experiencing has demonstrated the need to continually ensure our natural gas delivery system is resilient, safe and reliable," said Will Evans, Jr., president of North Shore Gas. "We are committed to investing in the system and maintaining a strong workforce to provide our customers with natural gas service they can count on. Replacing and maintaining the infrastructure now will also result in cost savings and benefits for customers over time."
Increased operational and pipeline safety costs in addition to and the cost of maintaining a highly skilled workforce has contributed to the need to request a rate increase. North Shore Gas has several ongoing infrastructure projects to enhance system safety and reliability and continues to replace higher risk materials in the distribution system with more modern polyethylene. Recently the company successfully completed the replacement of bare steel services, which can be prone to leaks.
North Shore Gas is also advising customers that the price per therm for natural gas for the month of March is likely to be 55% higher than February. Prolonged sub-zero temperatures have resulted in the coldest Chicago winter in 35 years, with temperatures 17% colder from November 1, 2013 through February 2014 when compared to the same timeframe in the prior year. This colder-than-average weather has resulted in customers using about 26% more natural gas compared to last year. The Gas Charge for March is expected to be about 88 cents. This charge includes the actual purchase cost, transportation and storage of natural gas, which can vary month to month, but is passed through to customers with no markup. North Shore Gas will work closely with customers who would like financial assistance including payment plan options to pay bills over time and financial grant information. Customers in need of help should contact North Shore Gas on 866-556-6004 or visit http://www.northshoregasdelivery.com.
The company said it would continue its long history of working with community organizations, elected officials and others to help low- and fixed-income residents meet their energy needs. The utility works closely with Community Action Partnership of Lake County to deliver the North Shore Gas Share the Warmth program, which provides matching grants to at-risk customers. Share the Warmth has provided more than $10.5 million in heating assistance grants to thousands of residents over the past 13 years.
North Shore Gas also offers free products and services that help to educate customers about energy efficiency and conservation to better manage and lower their energy usage. Since the North Shore Gas Natural Gas Savings Program began in June 2011, the company has issued more than $2.8 million in rebates to save nearly 1.8 million net therms of natural gas. That equates to the energy usage for nearly 500 homes for a year. It also eliminates close to 9,800 metric tons of CO2 emissions in Chicago - that's like taking more than 2,000 cars off the road annually.
About North Shore Gas
North Shore Gas, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: TEG), is a regulated natural gas delivery company that serves approximately 158,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers located in 54 communities within the northern suburbs of Chicago. For more information about North Shore Gas visit the company's website: www.northshoregasdelivery.com.