CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois consumers are facing the possibility of hundreds of dollars in higher heating bills this winter.

The increase in prices is due to skyrocketing natural gas prices, as well as aggressive utility spending. While supply rates went up again on Monday, major utilities are charging double what prices were in 2020.

In response to this, the Citizens Utility Board has launched an online help center, which will advise gas customers on how to soften the blow of these potentially crippling price increases. The new site explains why gas prices are high, offers efficiency and safety tips, outlines a customer’s rights against disconnection and arms consumers with information about energy assistance and alternative suppliers.

According to the CUB, winter prices are at their highest level since the heating season of 2008-09. The prices for Illinois’ major utilities are:

–        Ameren Illinois – 68.084 cents per therm (101 percent higher than last November)

–        Nicor Gas – 68 cents per therm (143 percent higher than last November)

–        North Shore Gas – 68.440 cents per therm (77 percent higher than last November)

–        Peoples Gas – 73.870 cents per therm (164 percent higher than last November)

“Every winter there is a need for energy assistance, and right now, this is an emergency situation,” said Jim Chilsen, the Director of Communications at CUB. “We need more energy assistance for consumers, to help them pay their bills and to help them keep connected during this very cold winter.”

The CUB advised residents to contact their utilities if they are having trouble affording payments, as the utility might offer financial assistance or payment arrangements. The CUB also urged utilities to be flexible to keep their customers connected this winter.

“If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to get your home ready for winter,” Chilsen said. “A big first step is to weatherize your doors and windows. Also, keep your temperature at a reasonable temperature. Like I said before, 68° when you’re home or awake. When your away or asleep, you can bring it down 7° to 10°. That can make a big difference on your energy bills.”