Inside these posts: Natural gas

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NIPSCO CEO gets 31% pay raise

From the Times of Northwest Indiana | NIPSCO’s chief executive Jimmy Staton received a 31 percent pay raise to $1.9 million last year while telling state regulators the utility needs more money from customers to cover increased costs.Get the full story>>

Survey ranks Chicago-area natural gas companies below others in Midwest

Natural gas utilities for Northern Illinois and Chicago are making their business customers a little happier than last year, but they still rank below many others in the Midwest, according to a customer satisfaction study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Nicor Gas, which serves northern Illinois, rose 15 points on the index, and now ranks 13th among 21 Midwestern gas utilities. Peoples Gas, which serves Chicago, rose 3 points, but remained toward the bottom, landing at No. 20. Both came in below the Midwest average. Get the full story »

Exelon CEO: Congress should ‘do nothing’ on energy policy

John W. Rowe. (Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune)

Natural gas will remain cheaper than other sources of electricity generation for “a long time,” Exelon Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive John W. Rowe said Tuesday.

“I have never seen a time, not once, where one fuel source seems to be so dominant for so long,” said Rowe, one of the senior utility executives in the U.S. and former head of two utility trade organizations in Washington. “The supply-demand equations for gas are very powerful and I believe they are real for a long time.”

As a result of those economics, Rowe said, the U.S. Congress should “do nothing” on energy policy and allow the market to replace aging coal generating plants with natural gas, which releases less carbon than coal when burned. Get the full story »

Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas ask for rate hikes

Chicago natural gas customers could see their bills go up by more than $100 a year in 2012 under a rate hike proposal that Peoples Gas filed Tuesday with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, subsidiaries of the Integrys Energy Group, said they are asking for higher rates to offset increased delivery costs. Peoples Gas is asking for a hike that would tack on about $9 per month to a typical small residential customer’s bill, adding up to $108 a year. The increase applies only to the delivery charge, with the cost of natural gas and taxes remaining the same, the utility said in a statement.

In the case of North Shore Gas, the utility is seeking a rate adjustment that would mean a $3 monthly increase for the typical customer, or roughly $36 a year. Get the full story »

NiSource 4Q profit falls 63%

NiSource Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings fell 63 percent amid early debt-extinguishment losses as the regional utility reported higher-than-expected revenue.

The Midwest and Northeast electricity and natural gas utility has benefitted from cost cutting and improving demand in some of its markets last year. Its industrial volume received a boost as the manufacturing sector rebounded last year. Get the full story »

Natural gas futures trading halted on CME’s Nymex

Electronic trading in natural-gas futures and options on the New York Mercantile Exchange was halted for about a half hour Monday due to technical issues, CME Group Inc.

Electronic trading on the benchmark U.S. natural-gas contract was halted at 1:11 p.m. EST, said CME, which operates the Nymex. Trading on the exchange’s Globex electronic platform resumed at 1:45 p.m. EST following a 15-minute pre-open session, CME said. Get the full story »

Chicago-area group provides $2M in gas rebates

A Chicago-area group that provides rebates to natural gas customers says it provided more than $2 million in savings since 2008. Get the full story »

Chicago adding natural gas taxis

One of a dozen Yellow Cabs in Chicago that will run on compressed natural gas. (Yellow Cab)

Starting in March, if you stick out your hand to hail a cab in Chicago, the taxi you get might not run on gasoline.

That’s because Taxi Medallion Management, which operates Yellow Cabs in Chicago, is introducing 12 Ford Transit Connect taxi cabs into its fleet that run on compressed natural gas -– a fuel that emits 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions that traditional gasoline but requires special pumping stations. Get the full story »

Second coal-to-gas bill passes Senate

In one of its final votes of the session, the state Senate passed a controversial bill this morning that would force state utilities to purchase synthetic natural gas from a plant proposed for downstate Illinois.

The bill paves the way for Power Holdings of Illinois LLC’s to produce gas from Illinois coal in Jefferson County by guaranteeing that the plant would have a market for the gas it produces for the next 10 years: Illinois consumers.

The vote follows a similar bill that passed last week that forces utilities to purchase the total output of a coal-to-gas plant proposed for Southeast Chicago by Leucadia National Corp. for the next 30 years. Get the full story »

Second coal-to-gas bill passes Illinois House

The Illinois House backed a controversial bill Friday that would help Power Holdings of Illinois move forward with a plant slated for Jefferson County that would turn coal into synthetic natural gas.

The bill, SB1927, is the second bill related to synthetic natural gas to move forward in the lame duck session and must pass the senate next week for the governor to sign it into law.

Representatives voted 82 to 31 to pass the bill, which would force state gas utilities to purchase 100 percent of the gas the plant would produce for 10 years: a last-minute amendment to a bill aimed at protecting patients against abuse and neglect. Get the full story »

Exelon may pursue NIPSCO natural gas utility

A spokesman for Chicago-based energy company Exelon Corp. would not confirm the company’s interest in acquiring Northern Indiana Public Service Co. gas utility from NiSource Inc., but wouldn’t rule it out. Platts Energy Week reported Wednesday that Exelon CEO John Rowe told investors Dec. 14 that Exelon is considering pursuing a natural gas utility. Get the full story>>

Nicor to be sold to AGL for $2.4B

Nicor's Naperville headquarters. (Tribune file photo)

Tuesday’s announcement that AGL Resources would acquire Naperville-based Nicor Inc. for $2.4 billion would put AGL in an envious position if energy policy moves to replace coal with natural gas — with a natural gas distribution system that would stretch from Chicago to the east coast and a bevy of natural gas storage facilities around the country.

The deal — which is subject to several layers of regulatory approval — would create the natural gas industry’s largest public company by market cap. Together, the companies would have annual revenues of $5.1 billion, according to a statement and carry a market cap that is nearly twice the size of its nearest peer in a deal expected to close in the second half of 2011. Get the full story »

Nicor shares rise on news of possible acquisition

Nicor Inc.’s stock price rose 4.24 percent to $46.76 today on reports that the Naperville energy company is set to announce a deal to be acquired by Atlanta-based AGL Resources.

The company has been shopping itself for months, courting regulated utilities and infrastructure funds with little success. Speculation arose last week that Integrys Energy Group Inc., parent of People’s Gas, was a considering a bid. AGL surfaced as Nicor’s likely buyer Monday in a report by Mergermarket, which tracks such deals and cited sources close to the situation. Get the full story »

Integrys said to be considering bid for Nicor

From Crain’s Chicago Business | Peoples Gas parent Integrys Energy Group Inc., which owns utilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan,parent of Peoples Gas, is considering a bid for Naperville natural-gas utility Nicor Inc. At least one out-of-state utility and possibly a private-equity firm are also kicking Nicor’s tires. Get the full story>>

Nicor profit flat, misses on tropical shipping decline

Nicor Inc.’s third-quarter earnings were flat as stronger results at the natural-gas company’s distribution business were offset by a decline at its shipping segment. Profit missed analysts’ expectations and Nicor cut its 2010 target to $3 to $3.10 a share from $3.10 to $3.30, mainly owing to lower-than-expected earnings at its shipping business. Get the full story »