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Economy

CUB Help for High Winter Heating Bills

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Illinois Citizens Utility Board
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The Illinois Citizens Utility Board says help is available for anyone who is having trouble paying higher utility bills this winter.

Spokesman Jim Chilsen says CUB has posted advice online about how to make your home more energy efficient. It's at CUBHelpCenter.com.

"If you're having a hard time paying your gas bills, call up your utilities, find out what assistance is available, find out if you can enter into a payment plan that will help you pay off that debt over several months."

This winter gas prices have increased to their highest winter levels since 2009. Chilsen blames climate change, starting with a year ago when severe cold in the south froze wells and pipelines, and led to higher prices. Since then, exports of natural gas have also increased.

"There was less gas exploration and well construction in recent years, there was increased used of gas last summer to generate electricity because the air conditioning and also Hurricane Ida knocked about 90% of gas production in the gulf offline in late August."

Chilsen also is asking utilities to do as much as possible to limit price increases, because he says everyone has a role to play.

According to CUB, the cost of natural gas for customers of MidAmerican Energy is 200% higher than a year ago, and for Ameren Illinois customers the price has increased by about 88%.