ICC Must Explain Approval of Peoples Gas' Unjustifiable Rate Hike

Jan 22, 2010, 12:41 ET from AARP Illinois

CHICAGO, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director:

The Illinois Commerce Commission's decision to approve Peoples Gas' $70-million rate hike is unjustifiable and delivers a hard blow to Chicago consumers already struggling in a stagnant economy.

On behalf of our 1.8 million Illinois members, we were initially encouraged by the recent appointments of Chicago Alderman Manny Flores as ICC Chair, and long-time consumer advocate John Colgan as Commissioner.

But after the Peoples Gas rate hike decision, we are now concerned.

Mr. Flores' abstention and Mr. Colgan's vote in favor of the rate hike bring into question whether the ICC will truly balance the needs of consumers with the requests and desires of utility companies. This is especially concerning since at the two most recent Commission hearings Peoples Gas' customers came and spoke out against this rate hike.

Mr. Colgan and the entire ICC must be accountable and explain to the public why the Commerce Commission voted unanimously to support a rate hike when consumers are struggling to make ends meet. And Mr. Flores needs to specifically explain to Illinois consumers why he abstained on this vote.

As the recession continues to impact people across Illinois, the ICC is critical to protecting consumers from unfair and excessive utility rate hikes.  A recent AARP survey found that nearly 45% of people age 50 and older are struggling to pay for utilities, while 21% have had to delay paying their utility bills because of costs.  The people of Illinois need an ICC that will stand up for and show concern for their interests.