A recent ruling from the Illinois Commerce Commission states that Nicor Gas improperly charged customers for $31 million in infrastructure spending in 2019, according to a report from Crain's Chicago Business.
The ruling initiates a process that will lead to refunds and rate adjustments, and orders the disallowance of around 7% of what Nicor spent in infrastructure costs in 2019, according to the report.
The move from the ICC comes months after Nicor filed a request for a $321 million rate hike to take effect in 2024, citing the need "to meet the current and future demands of our 2.3 million customers for clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service."
Regulators must make a ruling by the end of the year on whether to allow the proposed rate hikes.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
The Crain's report states that this is the first time regulators have ruled the utility company hasn't spent money efficiently since legislation that took effect in 2013 allowed gas utilities to implement infrastructure surcharges.
This authority for utility companies to surcharge is set to expire at the end of 2023, after which companies must obtain spending permission ahead of time from the ICC, or spend the money upfront and then asking regulators to allow recovery afterwards, according to Crain's.
According to the report, the ICC has just concluded reviewing charges from utility companies from 2019, with the process still yet to occur for 2020, 2021 and 2022.