Ameren UE offers help paying electric bill - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Ameren UE offers help paying electric bill

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By CJ Cassidy - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - If you're having problems making ends meet these days, you're not alone.  But now some folks may get a little extra help paying off their past due electric bills through Ameren UE.

Of course you have to qualify for it.  It's like an amnesty of sorts, if you've racked up a huge electric bill you can't pay off.

The big question on most customers minds; will that cost get passed on to others down the road?

"It's corporate funds, not money used in calculating customer rates," said Mike Cleary with Ameren UE.

He says don't worry about a rate hike.  At least not because the company is putting up $3 million to give struggling customers a clean slate.

"Obviously there is a need in these very difficult economic times," he said.

Suzana Long of Cape Girardeau says she knows first hand how tough things can get.  She expects her electricity to get shut off Wednesday morning because she can't pay her bill.

Her bill is close to $900 and Long says she has a valid reason for it being so high.

"I was off work all summer because I work through the school program and we got behind on our bill."

Now Long hopes the clean slate program gives her a chance to make a fresh start.

"You have to be able to come up with 10 percent of it.  If it's turned off then it's 20 percent. Because I am working back now, I can afford to make small payments just not entire amount," she said.

Long applied for help through the East Missouri Action Agency.  Workers there say they've been flooded by calls from people like Long.

"With the economic crisis, people have lost their jobs, and we're seeing a large amount of new clients come in," Erin Gotto said.

Ameren representatives says the program is on track despite recent news reports that the company itself is dealing with lay-offs.

"The layoffs have been with our non rate regulated energy generating unit in Illinois.  We have recently offered an early retirement package to about 350 employees, that includes Missouri and Illinois employees, but that won't in any way affect our customer service."

To find out if you qualify for energy assistance, simply call the agency nearest you.

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