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Ameren Illinois Utilities Propose Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Plan to Reduce Customer Costs, Benefit the Environment

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ameren Illinois Utilities have filed an energy efficiency plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) designed to help customers save money by reducing their natural gas usage.

"Through this comprehensive natural gas energy efficiency plan, we will help customers save money by using less natural gas without sacrificing personal comfort or safety," said Stan Ogden, vice president for Customer Service and Public Relations for the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP).

Ogden said this natural gas energy efficiency plan will complement the Ameren Illinois Utilities' comprehensive electric energy efficiency plan that was approved by the ICC on Feb. 6, 2008.

"Natural gas energy efficiency initiatives will allow customers to take advantage of a range of incentives that not only will help reduce natural gas usage, but will help lower electrical usage, as well," Ogden said. "Working in tandem, these two programs can provide customers with the tools they need to better control their energy usage and realize significant dollar savings through lower monthly natural gas and electric bills.

"Furthermore, our energy efficiency plan can benefit the environment. By using less natural gas and electricity at home, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better protect our environment," Ogden said.

The energy used in a typical home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average automobile, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

As proposed by the Ameren Illinois Utilities, the natural gas energy efficiency plan will begin in January 2009.

Customers will be given a variety of options from which to cut their energy costs. For example, the plan proposes incentives for residential customers to install high-efficiency furnaces, automatic programmable thermostats, water heater and hot water pipe insulation, wall insulation and low-emissivity double-pane windows.

There also will be programs for low-income customers and incentives for apartment building owners and commercial customers that will help them improve energy efficiency.

By the end of the program's first year, the Ameren Illinois Utilities estimate the natural gas energy efficiency efforts will reduce natural gas usage by an amount sufficient to serve about 1,400 single family homes for a year. In the second year, the goal is to reduce usage by an amount equal to the natural gas needed to supply about 2,800 single family homes for one year. By the end of the third year, the target is to reduce usage by an amount equal to the annual natural gas requirements of about 4,200 homes.

The energy efficiency programs will be funded by a small ICC-approved charge that will appear on customer bills. For a residential customer using 750 therms per year, this charge will average about 36 cents per month. Customers who improve their energy efficiency at homes or at their businesses can anticipate savings well in excess of this small charge.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities purchase natural gas from gas 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. The Ameren Illinois Utilities pass the cost of natural gas on to customers, dollar for dollar without any markup in price, through the Gas Charge (also referred to as the PGA, which means "purchased gas adjustment"). About three-fourths of a residential customer's bill is the actual cost of natural gas from these suppliers recovered through the Gas Charge. The Ameren Illinois Utilities do not profit from the Gas Charge.

As the natural gas energy efficiency programs are fully developed, the Ameren Illinois Utilities will present details on their Web site (http://www.ameren.com/) and in their AmerenLines customer newsletter.

The Ameren Illinois Utilities serve 1.2 million electric and 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

CONTACT: Leigh Morris, +1-217-535-5228, or Erica Abbett,
+1-618-236-4329, or Neal Johnson, +1-309-677-5284, all of Ameren Illinois

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/