AARP Illinois held a press conference on proposed utilities "rider" with its partners the Citizens Utility Board and the Illinois Public Interest Research Group standing up for Illinois consumers. AARP commends State Representative Will Guzzardi for his leadership in introducing legislation to protect ratepayers against skyrocketing rate.
Affordable utilities are essential for our 1.7 million members in Illinois and 38 million members nationwide, but also for all older adults and working families. Utilities are crucial for our health and well-being. Older adults particularly need these services, but many find these services eat up a sizable share of their household budget.
Here in Illinois, even state law defines that 6% is the total percentage of income burden that makes a combined gas and electric bill affordable.
AARP Illinois has set up a toll-free hotline, 1-844-220-5552; that is, 1-844-220-5552. We urge consumers to call this number now to get connected to their State Representative and urge them to support House Bill 4898.
Unfortunately, on average, adults 65 and older pay up to 12 percent of their limited and often fixed income for utilities, according to our own, nationwide, research. In the Chicago area, and particularly among Peoples Gas customers, the percentage they pay is getting higher and higher every year, with no end in sight.
For too long, Peoples Gas has been financing their increasingly expensive and inefficient pipe-replacement program on the backs of their ratepayers. Costs of the program have ballooned from $2.6 billion nine years ago, to an estimate of nearly $11 billion. The impact on ratepayers is unacceptable, with monthly bills expected to double over the next 20 years.
Let’s be clear about something: this is not about modernizing the infrastructure or better delivery for customers, or even about jobs – this is about shareholder equity, this is about Peoples Gas pocketing ratepayers’ money over all these years.
It is unfair and it must be stopped. Thankfully, it can be stopped.
House Bill 4898, sponsored by Representative Guzzardi would repeal Peoples Gas’ financing mechanism – the so-called ‘rider’ – and subject peoples Gas’ spending on the program to traditional regulatory oversight and scrutiny from the Illinois Commerce Commission, which also means they would be subject to consumer input.
It’s important that we all play our role in supporting Representative Guzzardi’s bill so it passes both Chambers in Springfield and is signed into law.
AARP Illinois has set up a toll-free hotline, 1-844-220-5552 ; that is, 1-844-220-5552 . We urge consumers to call this number now to get connected to their State Representative and urge them to support House Bill 4898.
Thank you and I will be happy to answer any questions.