This voluntary program means that customers can reduce the initial rate increases and pay for the deferred amounts at a later time.
"We applaud the ICC's quick action on this very important plan and believe it will prevail as the plan that many customers, legislators and consumer groups will see as a constructive, effective solution to the problem of sharply higher costs," said Scott A. Cisel, president of the Ameren Illinois utilities. "With the ICC's approval, we can now offer not only greater bill paying flexibility for more customers, but we can also intensify our efforts to educate customers about energy efficiency and renewable energy options. This plan also offers more help to those in need - all the while keeping our delivery companies financially stable so we can keep the lights on and the natural gas flowing." Customers can visit www.ameren.com for information on how to sign up for this plan. The plan will also be described in bill inserts to homes and businesses. The latest a customer can enroll is Aug. 21, 2007. However, the new plan provides deferrals that are retroactive to Jan. 2 for those who enroll by April 10.
Here's Ameren Illinois utilities' Enhanced Customer Elect Plan at-a-glance:
Under the plan, increases will be phased in at the lesser of an annual maximum of 14 percent over three years or until the full amount of the rate increase is reached. At the end of the phase-in period, customers will have three years to repay the deferred billings, including carrying charges. All customers will pay the full rate in January with those who choose "early enrollment" (by April 10, 2007) in the Customer Elect Plan, receiving a bill reduction for January through April on their May bills.
With today's ICC approval, the Ameren Illinois utilities can move forward in working with a range of stakeholders to structure energy assistance, conservation and renewables programs. The Customer Elect Plan includes the companies making a voluntary contribution totaling $15 million over two years to the Dollar More and Warm Neighbors programs. These programs provide bill paying assistance, support energy conservation initiatives, provide rebates for energy efficient equipment and promote renewable energy options for customers. The companies will also continue their aggressive energy conservation education programs and will offer energy saving light bulbs at a substantial discount throughout the companies' Illinois service territories. This voluntary contribution will allocate $9 million for bill paying assistance and $6 million for energy conservation activities.
The Ameren Illinois utilities own no generation. With the expiration of power supply contracts at the end of 2006, the Ameren Illinois utilities must now purchase power from the competitive market to provide customers' energy needs. These costs will be passed onto customers - dollar-for-dollar with no mark-up. While wholesale electricity costs will be higher than those contracted for in the past due to increased costs for fuel, materials, labor and other factors, Ameren Illinois residential customers' electric rates will still be at or below national averages. For the average residential customer paying the full rate, the increase will approximate $30 per month or $1 per day.
Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) through its subsidiaries, serves 1.2 million electric and nearly 800,000 natural gas customers in Illinois.
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