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Good News From Ameren Illinois Utilities: Lower Natural Gas Prices for 2009-10 Heating Season
Utilities Offer Advice on Spending Less by Using Less




PEORIA, Ill., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) natural gas customers will see significantly lower natural gas prices when the 2009-10 heating season begins, as the utilities continue to encourage customers to take the steps that will allow them to spend less by using less energy.


The drop in prices is the result of the global recession and the significant reduction in worldwide demand for energy that has led to an overall reduction in the market prices of both crude oil and natural gas.


"The good news for our customers is that we expect natural gas prices will be well below the prices paid last winter," said Ameren Vice President of Gas Supply and System Control Scott A. Glaeser. "Furthermore, we have the majority our natural gas supplies hedged or 'price protected' for the upcoming winter to insulate our customers from market volatility."


Glaeser also stressed that the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU) have secured adequate natural gas supplies to meet customer needs during the upcoming 2009-10 heating season.


Last October, AIU customers paid an average price of $1.32 per therm for natural gas, while the October 2009 price average will be $0.56 or 58 percent lower than a year ago. During the 2008-09 heating season, AIU customers paid an average of $0.84 per therm. AIU is anticipating the 2009-2010 heating season price to average $0.62 cents per therm or 26 percent less than the prior heating season assuming normal winter temperatures.


"While lower natural gas prices are welcomed, we recognize and continue to be concerned about the impact the cost of heating may have on our customers," Glaeser said. "We will continue to help our customers understand this issue and provide the information they need to better manage their energy usage."


The three Ameren Illinois Utilities are energy delivery companies. As such, they must purchase natural gas from producers for delivery to customers. The wholesale price paid to producers is not regulated, but rises and falls based upon market conditions caused by supply and demand. AIU does not profit from the cost of natural gas paid by customers. The price of natural gas fluctuates from one month to the next based on supply and demand.


Customers are encouraged to adopt proven energy conservation practices that will help reduce bills without sacrificing personal comfort. Glaeser said the place to begin is by visiting ActOnEnergy.com to review AIU's energy saving tips.


In addition, AIU customers can learn about important cash incentives. For example, an AIU customer can receive an incentive of up to $200 when installing a high-efficiency natural gas forced air furnace. A rebate of $20 is paid when a customer purchases an ENERGY STAR qualified ceiling fan with lights. Ceiling fans enhance both heating and cooling systems, allowing customers to adjust thermostats to use less energy.


AIU's Act On Energy also offers discounts for a number of home energy performance improvement measures:

  • Natural gas customers can receive up to $370 for air sealing that will prevent heating dollars from escaping through hidden cracks and gaps.
  • A rebate of up to $580 for attic insulation.
  • Natural gas customers can receive a rebate of as much as $660 for wall insulation.
  • A rebate of up to $150 is available to natural gas customers who seal and insulate ducts to increase efficiency.
  • Before making these energy-saving upgrades, find out if you qualify for these special discounts through the Home Energy Performance Program. Full details are available at by calling 1-866-838-6918.



In addition, AIU natural gas customers can receive a $25 rebate when they install an energy saving programmable thermostat.


Details about these and other programs are available at ActOnEnergy.com or by calling 1-866-838-6918. (Note: See addendum to this release for conservation tips.)


Customers may enroll in the Budget Billing plan as a way to better manage their energy bills. This plan allows residential customers to pay the same amount each month. By enrolling now, customers can begin leveling out their monthly payments. The plan allows customers to pay an average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months of usage. The payment level is periodically reviewed and adjusted as necessary. On the 12th month, the account is reviewed to calculate the difference between the amount of energy used during the year and the amount paid under Budget Billing. If the amount paid exceeds the actual cost of providing the energy, the customer receives a credit. If the amount billed is less than the actual cost of providing the energy, the customer is billed for the difference.


Customers may enroll in Budget Billing by visiting Ameren's Web site or by calling their Ameren Illinois Utility company (AmerenCIPS: 1-888-789-2477, AmerenCILCO: 1- 888-672-5252, and AmerenIP: 1-800-755-5000). Customers may enroll in the program or drop out at any time. There is no cost to enroll in Budget Billing.


The Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO, AmerenIP) have been providing safe, reliable energy delivery service for more than a century. The Ameren Illinois Utilities deliver energy to 1.2 million electric and 840,000 natural gas customers in more than 1,200 communities within a 43,700-square-mile service territory.


Heating Season Tips from the Ameren Illinois Utilities


Saving Money Today

  • You can save 2 to 3 percent on your heating costs for each degree you lower your thermostat during the heating season.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you are away or sleeping. Visit ActOnEnergy.com for details on a $25 rebate for natural gas customers.
  • Never place a thermostat on an exterior wall, where it may be affected by outdoor temperatures.
  • Regularly change or wash (depending on type) furnace filters. This is especially important if you have pets or live in a dusty area.
  • Take advantage of solar heat by opening curtains, blinds and shades on sunny days. Close curtains, blinds and shades at night.
  • Have your heating system checked and serviced by a professional before the start of the heating season. Improperly operating fossil fuel furnaces may pose serious health and safety hazards, as well as use more energy. Fireplace and wood-burning stove flues should be inspected and cleaned by a professional, as well. Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home, as required by state law.
  • Check for heating system duct air leaks. Begin by sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement or garage by using duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Next, seal ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house. Properly sealed ducts can improve your heating system's efficiency by up to 20 percent.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFLs emit little heat and last seven or more years. Visit ActOnEnergy.com for details on CFL discounts for AIU customers.
  • Use low-cost ceiling fans or other types of circulating fans. Fans help to evenly distribute air, eliminating both hot and cold spots.
  • When not in use, keep fireplace and wood stove dampers closed.



Look in on others

  • Check in on the elderly and those with medical conditions to make certain they are safe and comfortable.



Saving Money Tomorrow

  • There is no substitute for insulation. Add insulation if attic floor joists are visible. Visit ActOnEnergy.com for details on discounts for AIU customers.
  • Use of weather-stripping and caulking helps prevents drafts, keeping homes warmer while saving energy.
  • Make certain exterior doors have a tight fit.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR qualified label when buying appliances, lights, heating and cooling equipment, doors, windows, home electronic products, office equipment and more. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2008 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 29 million cars -- all while saving $19 billion on their utility bills. For information, call 1-888-STAR-YES or visit: www.energystar.gov.
  • Significant savings can be realized by installing a high-efficiency heating system. An ENERGY STAR qualified high-efficiency heating system can save you up to 20 percent on energy costs. Visit ActOnEnergy.com to learn incentives.
  • The Ameren Illinois Utilities recommend customers enroll in the Budget Billing plan. This free service allows customers to pay the same amount each month of the year. Customers can enroll on the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com) or by calling toll-free 888-789-2477.
  • Plant trees around the house. Trees substantially reduce energy use by shading roofs and walls from the summer sun and serving as a barrier against winter winds. For more information, visit MySafeTrees.com.






SOURCE Ameren Illinois Utilities

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

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