Utility Board Files Complaint Against Nicor Gas

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The Illinois Citizens Utility Board, or CUB, wants Nicor Gas to pay a $27 million fine in connection with alleged improper accounting procedures.

CUB says the utility lied to state regulators to cover a complicated accounting scheme that defrauded consumers.

The allegations against Nicor Gas came to light last summer, after a company whistleblower wrote a memo to the Citizens Utility Board detailing how Nicor used accounting tricks to overcharge consumers and hide the profits.

"They were profiting off the sale of gas that was stored since the 1950s and that was bought at a very cheap price and manipulated it in such a way that consumers did not benefit from the savings," said Valeri Decastris, CUB Board Vice President.

Nicor officials deny any wrongdoing, saying the company worked to seek the lowest rates for consumers with a performance based rate plan.

Officials tell 23 News they don't think there is any basis for a penalty and will respond to the Illinois Commerce Commission

But CUB officials are urging state regulators to make an example of Nicor by leaving a heft $27 million fine, in addition cub is seeking refunds for customers who were overcharged.

"We feel that this is a very important case because never has a utility so blatantly lied to the Illinois Commerce Commission before," Decastris said.

CUB officials say the watchdog group is also conducting other investigations into wrongdoings by Nicor.

In the wake of the accounting scandal, Nicor discontinued it controversial performance based pricing plan on Jan. 1, and say they will reimburse $15 million to customers, but do not think a fine is in order.