Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

System is rigged against regular folks

Spread the love

.

By Ray Hanania

Consumers are reeling over massive increases in Nicor Gas costs, and they can’t get answers because the system is rigged against them.

Nicor Gas is owned by a massive conglomerate called Southern Gas, which has four gas subsidiaries serving 4.2 million customers. Nicor is the largest serving 2.2 million consumers in the northern third of the state, excluding Chicago.

Nicor is regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), which is funded through a portion of the taxes on Nicor’s bills to consumers.

Executives at both Southern Gas and Nicor Gas get huge salaries and benefits in the millions, while consumers are left struggling to pay their bills. Nicor costs have more than doubled in the past few years with the biggest hikes coming this winter.

Nicor relies on the ICC to get what it wants. ICC officers get generous salaries. The ICC chairman makes about $139,572 a year. Commissioners are paid $121,889.

The legislature, whose members get donations from the wealthy “individuals” at Southern Gas and Nicor Gas, control it all.

RayHanania

Ray Hanania

Nicor Gas cost increases are the most dramatic consumers have seen in monthly bills. A typical suburban home in northern Illinois for January paid $118 in 2018; $127 in 2019; $104 in 2020; $112 in 2021; $181 in 2022; and $229 in 2023.

That’s because ICC has granted massive hike requests made by Nicor Gas, which has asked for $208 million in 2017, $230 million in 2018, and $293 million in 2021. In 2021, ICC approved a $240 million cost hike.

During that same period, the cost of Nicor Gas more than doubled, shocking consumers but doing little to shock Illinois officials.

The agency tasked with protecting consumer rights is the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) which is funded by “donations.” But CUB operates in poverty, funded by “donations.” Vastly underfunded compared to the giant it monitors.

How can CUB fight Southern Gas, Nicor Gas or the taxpayer-funded ICC?

The biggest problem is there is absolutely no transparency in how Nicor Gas and Southern Gas operate. Executive salaries, which are estimated in the tens of millions, are hidden from public view. How much does Nicor CEO Wendell Dallas get? Good luck searching for that.

Not even CUB can easily find those numbers. I asked.

The state should require that they be published by the companies and easily found!

In 2021, Southern’s president received more than $19 million. The other four CEOs earned more than $4.5 million each in salaries.

What we do know about salaries at Nicor Gas is a previous CEO, Russ Strobel, walked away with more than $23.8 million when he left in 2010, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Their salaries will rise while yours will continue to fall in value because of lack of wage hikes and the steady rise of inflation.

The system is rigged against consumers.

Wealthy employees at Southern Gas and its Nicor subsidiary donate huge amounts to our elected officials. Who do you think legislators listen to? You and CUB? Or the people pumping money into their campaign coffers?

What is Gov. JB Pritzker, whose billions make him insensitive to rising consumer costs or the cold temperatures, doing about it? Nothing. Why should he? He can set the temperature in his mansions to 80 degrees if he wants while most Nicor Gas customers are told to lower their heating settings to reduce costs. Landlords need only set their thermostats to 68 during the day and 66 at night.

No one is listening to the shivers and rattling teeth of consumers as they write their monthly payment checks to Nicor. Especially abandoned are the seniors who need the most attention and support.

The system in Illinois must change and focus on the consumers who are paying the money that Southern Gas, Nicor and the ICC use to pad their 401ks and retirement funds.

There must be more transparency. Information on salaries should be easy, not difficult, to find. Utility companies like Nicor should be forced to publish them every year on their websites.

CUB needs to be funded by the state and strengthened. In fact, make Nicor pay their costs and boost up their salaries.

Nicor Gas billing increases from this past fall and winter need to be rolled back.

The legislature needs to hold public hearings to pull the veil off of this massive secret process that is torturing everyday consumers struggling to cope with rising costs coming from every direction.

Check out Ray Hanania’s columns and political podcasts at hanania.com.

7 Comments

  1. Shelly on February 5, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you for telling the truth about Nicor.they have raised the prices so high that seniors and poor families can’t afford foods and necessities . I keep my thermostat at 75 and I still have to wear a sweater or coat to keep warm. My bill at 175.00 a month and I only have furnace a hot water and dryer I wash sometime once a week. Never have my bill been this much lt stared happening when they put the meter on the outside of my house.



  2. Richard on February 5, 2023 at 4:40 pm

    Wake up people do care about your own gas bills



  3. Matt McKeon on February 5, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Great article and spot on. People say nothing and just accept this. Typical residents of Chicago and Il, let the leftist democrats and rino republicans sell us down the River and accept it like lemmings.



    • Josh Florey on February 5, 2023 at 9:09 pm

      Rhino republicans❓ Republicans don’t have any say in this state because of Chicago ❗ This state is full of corruption ❗ It’s all about who can line who’s pockets ❗The average American is nothing more than a slave to politicians, working to fill their pockets and their families pockets.



  4. Daniel Scala on February 5, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for the eye opening information. Just unbelievable that there is so little government oversight, and criminal conduct that isn’t front page news. This is corruption at its worst. Obviously citizens need to wake up and take action. Problems at the IRS also show that regular people don’t stand a chance against wealthy companies who rape the public by overcharging for their products,and not paying taxes to boot. Even Presidents don’t pay taxes!



  5. Mark Jelinek on February 5, 2023 at 7:57 pm

    Great article Mr Hanania!
    Please consider doing a similar piece about ComEd.



  6. Betty Palmer on February 5, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    Its not just company ameren is just as bad. They have raised their power bill up so much I haven’t had my heater going but for the days that it was -31 I had to ran it for 4 days which increased it by $80. Having only 7 things plug in it still ranks 86.88 a month who can afford this and they want another increase in electricity and gas. I have not been heating my house the rest of the time because there no way to afford it.



Local News

GSWNH_OLSLincolnTomb_052424

Learning history is fun, honest

Spread the love

Spread the love Seventh and eighth graders from Our Lady of the Snows School clamor to rub the nose of a bust of President Abraham Lincoln during a field trip to Springfield earlier this month. Rubbing the nose of the famous bust of Honest Abe–a part of the tomb of the nation’s 16th President–is said…

13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn

Fight to save ShotSpotter is still alive

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound (708)-496-0265 . As you have read several times in the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound, the people of Clearing and Garfield Ridge are clear in their support of keeping ShotSpotter technology deployed in Chicago, to help police fight crime. So I won’t go over old…

GSWNH_ColdPlanerSpitsAsphalt_052424

63rd Street getting a facelift

Spread the love

Spread the love. Quinn hails federally funded resurfacing project  . By Tim Hadac The old joke about there being not four seasons, but just two in Chicago each year—winter and construction—was apparent late last week as heavy equipment arrived in Clearing. As 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and other city officials gathered for an outdoor…

23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares

Tabares blasts Foxx over ‘no seizure’ idea

Spread the love

Spread the love. Brands State’s Attorney as ‘pro-criminal’ .  By Tim Hadac Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares this week blasted outgoing Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx over a possible change in how crimes are—or are not–prosecuted.Foxx recently said she is considering a plan to decline to prosecute weapons and drug crimes detected by routine…

GSWNH_OLSPrincipal_052424

School can get messy

Spread the love

Spread the love Second grader Weronika Kozielec squirts ketchup on the head of Our Lady of the Snows School Principal Christina Avis at a recent gathering in the parking lot of the school, 4810 S. Leamington. But the condiment was not all that was dumped on the principal. Students, faculty and staff laughed and cheered…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound May 22, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Peggy Zabicki

Brother, what a day today is

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . May 24 is National Brothers Day. The word “brother” comes from the Latin root for “frater” and the Proto-Germanic word “brothar” which itself comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “bhrater.”  I’m sure everyone already knows that, but…

Mary Stanek

May your Memorial Day be meaningful

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796 . I hope we all will have a meaningful Memorial Day. Let us remember that this day is set to honor military personnel who died in service of their country. Memorial Day also marks…

volleyball

Boys Volleyball | Sandburg seeks 26th regional title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Coming off the worst season in program history in 2023, Sandburg was not going to settle for anything less than better results this year. Past the midway point of this season, however, the Eagles had a record of 11-8. But they closed the regular season strong, winning 11 of…

Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Red-hot Reavis looks to make noise in postseason

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Reavis is determined to send their head coach Don Erickson into retirement on a high note and will head into the postseason red hot and as South Suburban Red champions. The Rams defeated Oak Lawn 3-0 for the second straight day on May 15 to clinch the conference title.…

Neighbors

GSWNH_OLSLincolnTomb_052424

Learning history is fun, honest

Spread the love

Spread the love Seventh and eighth graders from Our Lady of the Snows School clamor to rub the nose of a bust of President Abraham Lincoln during a field trip to Springfield earlier this month. Rubbing the nose of the famous bust of Honest Abe–a part of the tomb of the nation’s 16th President–is said…

13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn

Fight to save ShotSpotter is still alive

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound (708)-496-0265 . As you have read several times in the Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound, the people of Clearing and Garfield Ridge are clear in their support of keeping ShotSpotter technology deployed in Chicago, to help police fight crime. So I won’t go over old…

GSWNH_ColdPlanerSpitsAsphalt_052424

63rd Street getting a facelift

Spread the love

Spread the love. Quinn hails federally funded resurfacing project  . By Tim Hadac The old joke about there being not four seasons, but just two in Chicago each year—winter and construction—was apparent late last week as heavy equipment arrived in Clearing. As 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and other city officials gathered for an outdoor…

23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares

Tabares blasts Foxx over ‘no seizure’ idea

Spread the love

Spread the love. Brands State’s Attorney as ‘pro-criminal’ .  By Tim Hadac Twenty-third Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares this week blasted outgoing Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx over a possible change in how crimes are—or are not–prosecuted.Foxx recently said she is considering a plan to decline to prosecute weapons and drug crimes detected by routine…

GSWNH_OLSPrincipal_052424

School can get messy

Spread the love

Spread the love Second grader Weronika Kozielec squirts ketchup on the head of Our Lady of the Snows School Principal Christina Avis at a recent gathering in the parking lot of the school, 4810 S. Leamington. But the condiment was not all that was dumped on the principal. Students, faculty and staff laughed and cheered…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound May 22, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Peggy Zabicki

Brother, what a day today is

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . May 24 is National Brothers Day. The word “brother” comes from the Latin root for “frater” and the Proto-Germanic word “brothar” which itself comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “bhrater.”  I’m sure everyone already knows that, but…

Mary Stanek

May your Memorial Day be meaningful

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796 . I hope we all will have a meaningful Memorial Day. Let us remember that this day is set to honor military personnel who died in service of their country. Memorial Day also marks…

volleyball

Boys Volleyball | Sandburg seeks 26th regional title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Coming off the worst season in program history in 2023, Sandburg was not going to settle for anything less than better results this year. Past the midway point of this season, however, the Eagles had a record of 11-8. But they closed the regular season strong, winning 11 of…

Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Red-hot Reavis looks to make noise in postseason

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Reavis is determined to send their head coach Don Erickson into retirement on a high note and will head into the postseason red hot and as South Suburban Red champions. The Rams defeated Oak Lawn 3-0 for the second straight day on May 15 to clinch the conference title.…