COLLINSVILLE, Ill., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameren Illinois customers can expect another year with natural gas prices lower than the national average during the upcoming 2014-15 heating season.
"We are fully prepared for the winter season and expect stable prices for Ameren Illinois customers," said Ameren Illinois Gas Supply Director Ken Dothage.
"Because of our price hedging and storage strategies along with the continued increase in natural gas production in the U.S., we anticipate that the gas supply portion of our customers' bills will again be lower than the national average," said Dothage. During the 2013-14 heating season which was 15 percent colder than normal, Ameren Illinois customers paid an average of $0.54 per therm. Ameren Illinois anticipates 2014-15 heating-season average prices to remain low in a range of $0.53-$0.55 per therm.
"We buy a significant amount of natural gas in the summer months when prices are typically lower and store it for use by our customers in the winter. Those savings are passed on to our customers," said Dothage. "While the amount a customer pays will depend on winter temperatures and the actual amount of energy a customer uses, we have taken steps to insulate them from price volatility on the supply side."
A large portion of a customer's monthly bill is gas supply costs – including the cost of interstate gas transportation, leased storage, and the natural gas commodity itself. Due to much colder temperatures last winter, residential customers used more natural gas. If temperatures return to normal in the 2014-15 heating season, most customers should see lower overall bills as compared to last year.
Natural gas is a commodity which Ameren Illinois purchases from various producers for delivery to its customers. Ameren Illinois does not profit from or mark-up the cost of natural gas supplies purchased.
Dothage stressed that Ameren Illinois has adequate natural gas supplies to meet customer needs during the upcoming heating season. This winter Ameren Illinois will control 38.6 billion cubic feet of working gas volumes through its 12 natural gas storage fields and storage capacity it leases from interstate pipelines. Working gas is the amount of gas which can be withdrawn in a winter season.
In addition to funding capital investments to maintain its gas storage fields which provides outstanding system operational value during critically cold periods, Ameren Illinois continues to invest capital to maintain its gas transmission and distribution systems in order to continue to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to its customers throughout the State of Illinois.
Customers can take actions to reduce their heating bills without sacrificing personal comfort. To help ease the burden caused by higher energy use, Ameren Illinois encourages customers to enroll in Budget Billing, a plan that allows residential customers to pay the same amount each month. Under the payment plan, customer bills are calculated using the average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months. Customers can enroll in Budget Billing at any time by calling 800-755-5000 or signing up at AmerenIllinois.com. There is no additional charge to enroll or participate in this program.
Other resources include:
Warm Neighbors Cool Friends (WNCF), a year-round heating and cooling assistance program to help those who generally do not qualify for financial assistance from other government or non-profit programs. Eligible households can receive up to $350 for this heating season. The WNCF weatherization program also helps customers reduce energy usage by installing insulation, air sealing, caulking and replacing of heating units. More at Warmneighborscoolfriends.com.
Energy Efficiency Programs. Ameren Illinois offers programs that customers can utilize to help reduce energy usage and save money. Ameren Illinois offers home energy audits for only $50. An energy audit helps customers pinpoint the specific steps they can take to lower their home heating and cooling costs. Rebates and incentives are available to help customers implement changes recommended from the audit. Permanent improvements in the energy efficiency of the home will result in ongoing savings. More information is available at Amerenillinois.com/programs.
About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 812,000 natural gas to customers in Illinois. Our mission is to power the quality of life. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com, find us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois or Facebook.
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SOURCE Ameren Illinois