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$64 Million Isn’t Enough,|Illinois A.G. Says

CHICAGO (CN) - Illinois' largest gas utility agreed to pay $64 million to settle a 10-year-old accounting scandal, but the state's attorney general wants Nicor Gas to pay $200 million more.

Nicor Gas admitted no wrongdoing in its settlement with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which was disclosed Monday.

The claims stem from a now-defunct program designed to give Nicor an incentive to buy natural gas more cheaply on behalf of ratepayers.

The program set a gas-cost benchmark for Nicor and allowed it to take as profit half of any savings it realized, when those savings would ordinarily be passed into customers.

It is not clear how big a refund the average Nicor ratepayer will receive if the deal is approved, but it comes to about $29 a customer if spread evenly among Nicor's 2.2 million ratepayers, Crain's Chicago Business reported.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Citizens Utility Board have not signed off on the settlement, in hope of getting a bigger refund.

The Citizens Utility Board claims that Nicor manipulated its gas storage operations to release low-cost gas accumulated years previously, to artificially reduce gas costs and increase profit, Crain's reported.

Madigan is seeking a refund of around $260 million, while the Citizens Utility Board is seeking about $280 million.

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