"The Ameren Illinois utilities have adequate power supplies and the transmission and distribution capacity to provide reliable, safe electricity service to our customers throughout 2006," says Ameren Illinois President Scott Cisel.
"In addition, we continue to improve the reliability and capacity of our system to better meet the growing needs of the 85 counties we serve," Cisel adds.
This year, the Ameren Illinois utilities are upgrading four major transmission lines and numerous substations. In addition, the company is preparing to build two new transmission lines in La Salle County.
To help prevent outages, the Ameren Illinois utilities trim trees throughout their system on a four-year cycle.
"Through the careful management of our resources, the Ameren Illinois utilities will continue to provide safe, reliable service to all of our customers," Cisel says.
"At the same time, we want to remind our customers that we are here to help them better manage their utility bills through a variety of effective, easy to use tools."
Ameren also encourages customers to enroll in the Budget Billing plan to level out monthly utility payments. There is no additional deposit required for Budget Billing. The plan allows customers to pay an average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months of usage. For information on Budget Billing, visit the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com) or call AmerenCILCO at 888-672-5252, AmerenCIPS at 888-789-2477 and AmerenIP at 800-755-5000.
In addition, the three Ameren Illinois utilities - AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP - are offering practical suggestions to help customers ease the impact of higher summer bills and reduce electricity usage without sacrificing comfort during the hottest days of summer.
The Ameren Illinois utilizes remind customers this is a good time to take those steps that can trim energy bills without compromising comfort. These steps include the following:
• On warm days, avoid activities that will add heat to your home. Instead of turning on the stove's oven or even the stovetop, use the microwave oven or grill outdoors. If you must use your stove, turn on the stove's hood fan to draw hot air out of your kitchen.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
• Close drapes, blinds and shades during the day to minimize the sun's impact.
• Circulating fans - such as floor fans, table fans, window fans and ceiling fans - offer an inexpensive way to help keep you cooler. Ceiling fans are the most efficient way to circulate air. A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the temperature setting on your air conditioner by 4?F without sacrificing comfort. Many people find that ceiling fans allow them to turn the air conditioner off when temperatures are moderately warm.
• Air conditioner filters need to be regularly changed or cleaned. If you have cats, dogs or live where there is a lot of dust, you may need to change or clean filters more frequently.
• When replacing a central air conditioner, consider a unit with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher to achieve greater energy cost savings. A SEER 13 unit is 30 percent more efficient than a SEER 10 unit.
• Regarding a window air conditioner, consider a unit with an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 10.0 or higher. Replacing an EER 5.0 window air conditioner with an EER 10.0 unit can cut energy use by up to 50 percent.
• Another way to keep a home cool is by planting trees and shrubs. These help conserve energy, improve the environment and beautify your home. For tips on tree planting, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of the "Planting Trees" booklet.
The Ameren Illinois utilities also remind customers the federal government has some good news for homeowners interested in making their homes more energy efficient.
Beginning this year, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 makes federal tax credits available for numerous home improvements designed to increase energy efficiency. Federal tax credits may be earned by installing qualified insulation materials, replacement windows and exterior doors.
Also, the Energy Policy Act provides tax credits when for the installation of a qualified central air conditioner, water heater, geothermal heat pump, advanced main air circulating fan and other energy-efficient devices. Other federal tax credits are available for buyers of new homes and commercial properties. Visit the Energy Star Web site (www.energystar.gov/) for additional information.
For more helpful energy conservation information and for information about payment options, visit Ameren's Web site (www.ameren.com).
The Ameren Illinois utilities are subsidiaries of Ameren Corp. (NYSE: AEE). Combined, the three utilities serve about 1.2 million retail electric customers in Illinois. The Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
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