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AmerenIP Alerts Customers On January Increase In Natural Gas Rates
With natural gas wholesale prices at record highs, AmerenIP natural gas customers will pay more for natural gas beginning on Jan. 1, 2006.

Market prices for natural gas have increased 135 percent since January of 2005, says Scott Glaeser, vice president, Gas Supply and System Control, AmerenEnergy Fuels and Services.

As a result of this unprecedented increase in wholesale natural gas prices, it is anticipated the average AmerenIP residential customer will pay about $78 more for natural gas for the month of January of 2006 as compared to January of 2005, assuming normal temperatures. The increase for customers will be higher if January temperatures are colder than normal.

The impact of this year's hurricane season on natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and colder than normal temperatures in much of the United States during December have aggravated what was already a critical balance between supply and demand in the U.S.

AmerenIP does not produce natural gas, but must purchase it from wholesale producers located in various U.S. natural gas production areas. The wholesale price is not regulated, but rises and falls based upon market conditions caused by supply and demand. AmerenIP passes the cost of natural gas on to customers, dollar for dollar, through the purchased gas adjustment (PGA) rate. Typically, the PGA is about three-fourths of an average residential customer's bill.

AmerenIP does not profit from the PGA. Listed as the "Gas Charge" on individual customer bills, the PGA is recomputed each month and may go up or down depending on the wholesale price of natural gas. The PGA is a matter of public record and is available on the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com).

Effective Jan. 1, the AmerenIP PGA will go from 104.01 cents per therm for December to 114.90 cents per therm for January, an increase of 10 percent. In sharp contrast, market prices for wellhead natural gas to be delivered in January have increased 30 percent from December prices, Glaeser says.

The PGA rate is reviewed and approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure proper cost recovery and that Ameren management was prudent in the purchasing of natural gas.

Ameren takes significant steps to dampen the impact of wholesale gas price volatility on its natural gas customers. The company utilizes sophisticated financial hedging strategies and negotiates both long- and short-term natural gas supply contracts.

Also, Ameren purchases natural gas at lower prices during the summer season and injects the natural gas into extensive underground storage fields, which provide almost half of the natural gas required during the winter heating season.

Ameren has secured adequate supplies of natural gas to meet customer needs for this winter season.

Ameren is asking all of its customers to seriously consider Budget Billing because it will level out their monthly payments. Approximately 244,000 Illinois customers are now enrolled in Budget Billing.

By enrolling now, customers can begin leveling out their monthly payments. No additional deposit is required for Budget Billing. The plan allows customers to pay an average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months of usage. The program is open to electric-only, natural gas-only and combination electric and natural gas customers. Customers can enroll in the program or drop out at any time.

Visit the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com) for additional information. Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.3 million electric and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.

Natural Gas Information from Ameren Conservation Tips

To better manage rising natural gas costs, customers also can take steps to conserve energy. Examples of conservation steps include:

• Plug air leaks, apply caulk and install weather stripping.

• Use storm windows or plastic window covering.

• Turn down thermostats (every degree you turn down your thermostat will reduce consumption by 2-3 percent).

• Regularly change furnace filters.

• The water heater is the second largest user of natural gas in the home. Turning a water heater to the lowest setting (usually 120 degrees F) and placing an insulated jacket over that water heater can save on energy bills.

Additional conservation suggestions are available on Ameren's Web site (www.ameren.com).

Billing Tips

• The Ameren Illinois utilities offer Budget Billing, which levels out the impact of higher heating bills throughout the entire year. About 244,000 Ameren Illinois customers are enrolled in Budget Billing.

• Each Ameren Illinois utility offers deferred payment agreements to allow those customers who have fallen behind in bill payments to catch up on those past-due balances.

• The Ameren Illinois utilities again are offering the Good Samaritan special reconnection program, which enables a customer to be reconnected by paying the lesser of $250 of 20 percent of the past due balance.

• The Ameren Illinois utilities waive reconnection fees once each calendar year for any customer who has been previously disconnected for non- payment.

• The Ameren Illinois utilities waive up front deposits for new service applicants who are eligible for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

• The Ameren Illinois utilities will not apply LIHEAP funds to new reconnection fees or security deposits.

• The Ameren Dollar More and Warm Neighbors assistance programs are funded by voluntary contributions by customers and employees. These programs provide assistance to customers in need of help to pay utility bills.

• Each Ameren Illinois utility offers deferred payment agreements to allow those customers who have fallen behind in bill payments to catch up on those past-due balances.

• Ameren works closely with the 27 LIHEAP agencies located with the Ameren Illinois utility service territories.

• Ameren has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote home repair and weatherization loans to low-income rural home owners. Low- income rural seniors over the age of 62 can apply for federal grants.