Ameren says heating bills could be moderate

GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Icicles hang from the Bishop Hill water tower in a file photo.

Ameren Illinois customers can expect a continuation of moderate natural gas prices during the upcoming 2012-13 heating season.

"We anticipate customer natural gas prices for this winter will be similar to prices paid last winter," said Ameren Illinois Gas Supply Manager Ken Dothage. "This moderate trend in natural gas prices is the result of increased North American natural gas supply due to the rapid development of shale gas throughout the U.S., continued sluggish domestic and global economies and soft worldwide demand for all forms of energy."

During the 2011-12 heating season, Ameren Illinois customers paid an average of 59 cents per therm, which includes the cost of interstate gas transportation, leased storage, and the natural gas commodity. Ameren Illinois anticipates the 2011-12 heating average season price to remain flat compared to last year.

A monthly bill is based on the amount of natural gas a customer uses. The 2011-12 heating season was unusually mild, resulting in less natural gas being used by many residential customers. However, customers can expect to use more natural gas if there is a return to more normal temperatures during the 2012-13 heating season. This most likely would result in higher overall bills as compared to last winter.

Dothage also stressed Ameren Illinois has secured adequate natural gas supplies to meet customer needs during the upcoming heating season. He noted Ameren Illinois has a significant portion of its natural gas supplies hedged or "price protected" for the upcoming winter to insulate customers from market price volatility.

Ameren Illinois buys natural gas from various producers for delivery to its customers. The utility does not profit from or mark-up the cost of natural gas supplies purchased.

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

At ActOnEnergy.com, Ameren Illinois customers can learn about cash incentives. For example, an Ameren Illinois customer may receive an incentive of up to $300 when installing a qualified high-efficiency natural gas, forced-air furnace. Also, customers may receive a $25 rebate on the purchase of a qualified programmable thermostat.