SPRINGFIELD, Ill., PEORIA, Ill. and DECATUR, Ill., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As part of a $1 billion rate relief package for Illinois electric customers, the Ameren Illinois utilities today launched a four-year, $6 million effort to assist small businesses and not-for-profit agencies hit hardest by higher electric bills. The Non-Residential Hardship Assistance Program aims to help non-profit organizations, religious institutions, schools, senior centers, community centers and small businesses whose electric bills significantly increased this year.
"Along with our efforts this year to find rate relief solutions for residential customers, we wanted to make sure help is available for organizations facing hardships related to rising electric prices," says Stan Ogden, vice president of Customer Service and Public Relations for the Ameren Illinois utilities. "It's the first time we have reached beyond the residential sector to offer an assistance program of this kind."
The Non-Residential Hardship Assistance Program is designed to provide assistance up to $5,000, which will be applied as credits on electric bills to qualifying organizations. The Ameren Illinois utilities are now accepting applications, which must be postmarked on or before Oct. 12, 2007.
To qualify, businesses and organizations must meet the eligibility guidelines listed on http://www.ameren.com/ and be able to demonstrate a financial hardship caused by this year's electric rate increase. Non-profit applicants must provide proof of their non-profit status; businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and have experienced at least a 30 percent increase in their electric bill from July 2006 to July 2007. For complete program guidelines or an application, visit http://www.ameren.com/ or call your Ameren Illinois utility.
The Ameren Illinois utilities have asked the Energy Assistance Foundation to evaluate applicants to determine eligibility, and identify those organizations and businesses that experienced significant hardship as a result of the higher electric costs. These customers may then be awarded one-time credits of up to $5,000 per account while funds last. The Energy Assistance Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing bill payment assistance and home weatherization for qualifying customers.
"We designed the Non-Residential Hardship Assistance Program to ease the impact of rate increases for those organizations that need it most," says Ogden. "We encourage small business and non-profit customers who need a helping hand to explore this program."
The Ameren Illinois utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.
CONTACT: Shelley Epstein (Peoria), +1-309-677-5489, or Erica Abbett
(Metro East), +1-314-206-0646, or Natalie Hemmer (Decatur), +1-217-424-7541,
or Neal Johnson (Peoria), +1-309-677-5284, or Leigh Morris (Springfield),
+1-217-535-5228, all of Ameren
Web site: http://www.ameren.com/