SPRINGFIELD -- Letters on the way to residential customers of AmerenIP, AmerenCILCO and AmerenCIPS will warn of higher electricity rates that take effect for June, July, August and September.

By ADRIANA COLINDRES


STATE CAPITOL BUREAU


 

 



SPRINGFIELD -- Letters on the way to residential customers of AmerenIP, AmerenCILCO and AmerenCIPS will warn of higher electricity rates that take effect for June, July, August and September.



The higher rates will translate to a monthly increase of up to $37.90 for a residential customer who uses 1,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity during one of the summer months. But the increase could amount to even more, depending on how much electricity a customer uses.



“No one likes to pay more for any product or service, but the rising costs of electricity have made higher rates a necessity,” Stan Ogden, Ameren Illinois’ director of customer service, said in a news release. “We have been able to structure rates to minimize the impact of higher costs during the summer months.”



Ameren’s news release included an “approximate breakdown” showing how much more customers of the three utility companies might pay during each of the summer months. All of the figures apply to a residential customer whose usage is 1,500kwh a month:



-- AmerenCILCO: $37.90 more than a year ago.


-- AmerenIP: $27.70 more than a year ago.


-- AmerenCIPS: $16.30 more than a year ago.


-- AmerenCIPS Metro East: $8.75 more than a year ago.



Ameren said the increases are higher for customers of AmerenCILCO and AmerenIP because their 2006 rates were lower than the rates of AmerenCIPS.



Ameren started mailing the letters Thursday and will continue to send them for a full billing cycle, spokesman Leigh Morris said.



“We wanted to make certain they weren’t surprised by higher bills this summer,” he said.



The summer-month price increases are an outgrowth of the state’s 1997 electric deregulation law, which included a rate freeze that expired this year. As a result of that law, the Ameren Illinois utilities no longer own power-generating plants, and they have to buy electricity on the open market.



Morris said the typical residential customer in Illinois, who does not use electricity to heat his or her home, uses 10,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Power consumption typically goes down in cold-weather months and up in warm-weather months, he said.



“They’re going to see higher usage when the air conditioning is running than they’re going to see with the air conditioning off,” Morris said. “Energy conservation plays a real big role.”



Ameren’s letters include advice on how customers can reduce their power usage. Among the tips: turn up the thermostat for the air conditioner, keep shades and curtains closed during daylight hours and replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.



Further information is available online at www.ameren.com.



Lawmakers, meanwhile, say they still hope the General Assembly will take some action in the final weeks of the spring session to ease the financial burden on consumers hit with higher power bills this year.



Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said he is skeptical about the accuracy of Ameren’s figures on how the higher summertime rates will affect customers.



Rep David Leitch, R-Peoria, said Democratic legislative leaders “continue to play football with the issue,” which especially frustrates downstate lawmakers.



Rep. George Scully, a Flossmoor Democrat who plays a key role on the electricity issue, said the House could take up legislation on the topic next week. He declined to provide specifics about what the legislation would say.


 

 



Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or adriana.colindres@sj-r.com.