The average AmerenIP residential customer, who uses about 20 therms of natural gas in October, will pay about $15.60 for the natural gas this year as compared to about $19.40 in October 2005.
Ameren does not produce the natural gas it sells, 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. The Ameren Illinois utilities pass the cost of natural gas on to customers, dollar for dollar, through the purchased gas adjustment (PGA) rate. Over the course of the year, the PGA is about three- fourths of the average residential customer's bill.
The Ameren Illinois utilities do 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 and other cost factors. The PGA is a matter of public record and is available on the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com).
Effective Oct. 1, the AmerenIP PGA will go from 66.63 cents per therm for September to 78.07 cents per therm for October.
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.
In addition, Ameren recommends that customers practice conservation measures. For example, a residential customer can reduce energy usage by 2 to 3 percent for each degree the thermostat is lowered during the heating season.
Visit the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com) for additional information on Budget Billing and conservation.
Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.3 million electric and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.