ILL. UTILITY GETS OK FOR SMALL RATE HIKE

ILL. UTILITY GETS OK FOR SMALL RATE HIKE

The Illinois Commerce Commission has recommended an Illinois Power Co. rate increase to pay for a gas storage project but greatly scaled back the amount the utility wanted to collect.

Illinois Power had requested that it be allowed to increase customer rates to recoup expenses for a $56 million project that would expand by 42 percent the size of its natural gas storage fields in Hillsboro. The utility also asked for an increase in its gas service charge.Illinois Power sought an overall base rate increase of $30.7 million, which also would reflect increased operating expenses. It said customers would gain in the long run because the utility would be able to insulate itself from seasonally higher gas rates by being able to store vast amounts of cheaper gas.

The commission has recommended that the utility be given a smaller rate increase that would allow the utility to collect only $18.8 million more a year through rates.