IL Municipalities Fighting Natural Gas Rate Increase

By Benjamin Cox on February 5, 2020 at 8:50am

Several municipalities in the State of Illinois are fighting the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company for its natural gas rate hikes. Late last year, the company announced it would be increasing its rates to transport the gas from about 35 cents per decatherm of natural gas all the way up to $1.56 per unit. The rate hike was expected to go into effect in March, but it’s been delayed thanks to intervention threatened by nearly 35 towns who have said they will file a lawsuit. Currently, everything is awaiting a ruling by Federal Energy Regulation Commission. Roodhouse, which sits on the pipeline’s corridor, is expecting to enter the fight. Mayor Tom Martin says that the city is waiting to see what the ruling will be. “Anybody that is drawing off the Panhandle pipeline is looking at a 100-500% increase, depending upon how much FERC allows them to raise the rate. It will be in courts for who knows how long. The Roodhouse City Council just approved the Mayor’s Office funding up to $12,000 if we have to hire a FERC attorney to try to fight this increase. Nobody is saying that the company doesn’t deserve an increase, because it hasn’t been raised since 1993, but it’s kind of out of range on what they are asking for.”

Martin says residents and the city will just have to wait and pay the increase while things are settled in the courts. “These lawsuits and court proceedings could go on for a long time. They are going to start charging the increase in March, and we’ll have to pay it. At the time they all settle on the case, they are supposed to reimburse what we’ve paid in. There’s no guarantee on it. It may not even come to the fact that we need the reimbursement because I know there are multiple class action suits out in the courts now – some that are bigger than us. I know Winchester and White Hall have also done their own thing about this. It’ll just be a matter of time and see what FERC will do with the case.”

Currently, a nonprofit named the Interstate Municipal Gas Agency is trying to help with intervention on behalf of Bushnell, Macon, and Fulton in class action suits against the company. The Fulton Sun is currently documenting its own case with the company. You can read it here. Citizens of Roodhouse and the area could see up to a $12 increase on their bill per month starting in March. FERC and the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline’s case are currently working their way through the federal court system.