Rate Relief for Ameren Customers

Rate Relief for Ameren Customers
By: Arnold Wyrick

It's been a long time coming, but finally Ameren CIPS customers in southern Illinois are going to get the relief they've been waiting for, for months.  Back in January the electric rates were unfrozen and people's electric bills shot up.
During a news conference Monday at Ameren's training center in Marion, Ron Pate, vice-president of Ameren's Illinois Utilities, explained to a handful of customers on hand how his company was going to begin sending out relief checks.
"All Illinois utility residential customers will see a reduction in their bills, about 80 percent of our customers will realize a reduction of 40 percent or more," Pate said.
"Customers with an outstanding balance of 60 days will receive a check, all others will receive a credit on their bill.  And beginning next month all rebates will be in the form of bill credits," he said.
Which for some folks was welcome news after paying months of electric rates that went up more than 100 percent.
"Something is better then nothing.  But, I still don't think it's going to be enough.  I went from $800.00 to $1,800.00 on my business.  I don't know what my credit is going to be yet.  But, is it going to cover me for all those months that I paid, and paid and paid," said Ellie Dorchincez of Benton, Illinois.
The average Ameren customer will get a check for at least $100, and some heavy power users could see checks for as much as $1,000.
"We do know that we have a 'black eye' in our reputation with our customers.  And we hope that this is the first step in many steps to rebuild that confidence in us," Pate said.
Still some customers question why it took so long to come to an agreement between the power companies and state leaders.
"It's sad.  And I hate to admit that a big outfit like this to take so long to battle this out and for why, I don't know.  And I'm also disappointed with the politicians," said Tom Rhoades of Marion, Illinois.

So what does all this mean for your future power bills and electric rates?  Ameren's officials say that rates are still going to go up each year, but they're going to try to keep those increases to single digits.  They also say they're going to do their best to keep rates down through the year 2012.