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'Paychecks are not going up': Protest at People's Gas as rate hike concerns customers

'They need to go down on these rates'
'They need to go down on these rates' 02:07

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Twenty-percent of People's Gas customers are behind in paying their bills, according to a new analysis from a nonprofit research group. 

That amounts to $111 million in debt, and now, with a rate hike on the way, there are fears that more customers will fall behind. CBS 2's Andrew Ramos reports from People's Gas headquarters where a rally was held.

'Make it make sense' 02:27

Many of those customers came out Monday to voice not only their concerns but anger over this rate hike. According to Advocacy group Illnois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) the proposal could increase bills by an average of $12 a month.
Which would be about $140 a year.

When you consider the current economic climate, it's an increase some families say they just cannot afford. When it comes to those communities already struggling with keeping up with their bills,

Englewood tops the list where more than 47% of People's Gas customers are more than 30 days or more behind in gas bills. The average debt there: $1,000.

Other communities dealing with gas bill debt: Garfield Park, South Shore, Chatham and Chicago Lawn. Monday's rally focused on pushing back against the company's $402 million rate hike proposal, currently being reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

While those families most impacted by the hike are calling for change, a spokesperson for Peoples Gas said investing in aging infrastructure is now the priority and the rate increase is necessary.

"All I am saying is they need to go down on these rates. People's paychecks are not going up," said Englewood resident Valerie Carroll. 

"Failure to invest in infrastructure is the kind of thing that happened in Texas two winters ago during their harsh winter storm. There was no heat and more than 240 people lost their lives," said David Schwartz of People's Gas. 

The ICC is expected to rule on the historic $402 million rate hike in late November or early December. The rate would then go into effect in 2024.

Rather than wasting money on failing fossil fuel infrastructure, it's time to start the transition to clean, affordable, all-electric homes. Join us Monday, March 27th to say NO to the Peoples Gas rate hike.

Posted by Illinois PIRG on Friday, March 24, 2023
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