"This action is being taken in response to an expression of interest in a voluntary separation program --- something that was voiced from the first day we met with AmerenIP employees and during our first meetings with community leaders," says Gary L. Rainwater, Ameren president, chairman and chief executive officer. "Since the Sept. 30 completion of our acquisition of Illinois Power, we have been working to integrate operations, focusing on our core energy business strategy of providing reliable service, maintaining financial strength and flexibility for Ameren and delivering solid, long-term returns for our shareholders. This voluntary separation program will help us achieve these goals in a manner that is fair for our employees. "
Being considered by approximately 950 of Ameren's total 9,300 employees, the program is entirely voluntary and offers an enhanced separation benefit of a minimum of 26 weeks of pay - no matter the service time of the individual---and a maximum of 78 weeks of pay. Ameren will pay 100 percent of all medical and dental premiums for a number of months based on the employee's service, with a six-month minimum and an 18-month cap on those payments.
The program also includes an extension of early retirement eligibility for pension and retiree medical plan purposes for those eligible employees age 50 and over with at least 10 years of service on Dec. 31, 2004.
Affected employees will have until Dec. 20 to make decisions on whether to accept the voluntary separation opportunity. Those who accept will leave Ameren throughout 2005, with their departures based on systems integrations, project completion and business need. All participants are expected to have left the company by Dec. 31, 2005.
Ameren expects to realize long-term savings as a result of this program. In addition and consistent with the Illinois Commerce Commission's order approving the acquisition, costs incurred for this program are expected to be deferred for recovery in AmerenIP customer rates following the current rate freeze. That rate freeze is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2006.
Rainwater stressed that these changes do not affect the commitments the company has made in acquiring Illinois Power Company. "We pledged to have no more than 25 management employee involuntary reductions. Our goal is to integrate the companies so that we provide reliable, top quality service efficiently and cost- effectively, while continuing to support the AmerenIP service area and its economic development. In future months and years, we will continue to seek other ways to reduce costs and gain efficiencies in operations."
With assets of more than $17 billion, Ameren owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in its Midwest market with a capacity of more than 14,800 megawatts. Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.3 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square- mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
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