Nicor customers see monthly bill nearly double as demand for natural gas rises

Residents in the Stateline feel the effects of a price hike as their gas bills skyrocket.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:55 PM CST
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STATELINE (WIFR) - Nicor serves more than two million customers across Northern Illinois. Some in the Stateline were shocked to see their bill almost double.

Several homeowners across the Stateline say they expect to pay more for their gas bill in the winter but went into sticker shock when their latest invoice arrived.

Kenneth Foltz says $50 is the most he typically pays on his Nicor gas bill. But the most recent bill reached $98 for his 1,000 square-foot home. Foltz says he switched from an electric to a gas furnace about 5 years ago. His gas bill dropped initially then saw a slight increase in October of 2020. But when his wife went to pay this month’s bill online, the company included a message that their payment significantly exceeded their usual total.

“It’s bad enough to get a bill twice the amount. But then to get slapped again by saying... and they’re even admitting this ... that it’s excessive to what we normally pay. So I found that to be somewhat ironic,” says Foltz.

Nicor gas spokesperson Meena Beyers says the pandemic can be blamed for part of the increase. Add the recent cold snap and she says you have a perfect storm.

“During the pandemic, everything was shut down. Right. And if you think about it, cars weren’t flying. Planes were flowing, buildings were shut down. The demand for natural gas was just far lower than it is,” says Beyers.

Nicor increased its prices by 61 cents per therm, a 110% increase compared to twelve months ago. Beyers says Nicor doesn’t profit from the gas it buys to serve customers. Beyers says customers can take advantage of the company’s energy assistance and efficiency programs to help save more money.

“We actually directed $47 million in energy assistance to customers and this year is probably going to be even bigger than that.”

Officials from the Citizen’s Utility Board (CUB), a nonprofit which helps residents and small businesses with utility costs, say another reason for the price hike is due to frozen pipelines in southern states last year. The CUB advises setting your thermostat to 68 degrees when you are in your home and dropping it a few degrees when you’re sleeping to help cut down on how much consumers are paying.

“Everybody has a role to play. But in a winter like this, we’re asking people to call their legislators if they’re concerned about their natural gas bills because we need solutions now.”

Those interested in taking advantage of Nicor’s energy assistance and relief programs can head to the company’s website for more information.

Other people who spoke to 23 News said their bill surges from $34 to more than 100. One woman says she always keeps her home temperature in the mid to high 60s but still saw her bill double.

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