PEORIA – If you felt like your energy bills last winter were higher than they were, you’re right.
But with summer coming and an intense combination of heat and humidity, the situation may not improve. Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy said this summer will hurt customers as the price of electricity – specifically the “supply” part of their bill, will rise. Not bad, actually.
Combined with a smaller increase in the “delivery” portion of the Ameren invoice, this would not be a good time for customers.
“Consumers are taking a double whammy across Illinois,” said Jim Chelson, a spokesperson for the Citizens Utility Board’s consumer support group. They were beaten on both sides of the bill. “
Ameren residential invoice has two parts: the supply side and the delivery side. Chilsen said the supply side tends to be more market driven. The delivery fee includes the costs incurred by Ameren as well as some profits.
He cites the recent interest rate hike on the delivery side that took effect this year and high energy prices around the world as few reasons for price hikes. Chilsen is a non-profit organization created under Illinois law to represent the interests of Illinois residential utility clients.
But Amiren Illinois says not so fast. Kennedy said it is the law of supply and demand.
“The news is that wholesale electricity prices (energy supply) will rise significantly this summer. Global market issues, the war in Ukraine, post-pandemic demand, high gas prices are the reasons,” he said. “In addition, and this is important, renewable generation is not filling the remaining gap as fossil fuel stations close.”
The price increase sought by the company, which added a few dollars to the customer’s bill, was not responsible for the spike.
“CUB is correct, two orders of Illinois received a delivery price adjustment earlier this year,” Kennedy said. “But this increase in revenue, which pays for storm response, repairs, laying underground wiring, outage detection, grid modernization, technology… pales in comparison to the expected increase in wholesale energy prices that will begin in June of this year.”
How much will it cost me?
During the peak summer months, the typical residential customer can use about 763 kWh of electricity. Kennedy said that represents 1/12 of the normal annual use of 10,000 kWh.
But he added that people’s habits can influence this as well as how conscious they are of energy.
Using June 2022 as the basis for ‘summer’, a residential customer using 1,000 kWh… would see a charge of $94 on the supply portion of their monthly energy bill. At the same time last summer, the supply charge was $49 USD/month.”
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Disagreements over price increases
Chilsen, along with CUB, denounced the price increase and indicated that utilities are looking for another one next year.
Kennedy said, with Ameren, that price increases are not the reason prices are soaring to the ceiling. Instead, it’s Economics 101.
“Chicago has more energy than it needs. Downstate doesn’t,” he said. “We are all in the process of transitioning to a clean energy future. It is good for our communities, our customers and the environment.
“At the same time, we have been sounding the warning bell that the transition to renewable energy generation must take place in a steady and deliberate manner and that moving too quickly may leave the region without the minimum required local production. And when that happens, the costs for rural families increase.”
But Chelson said it was “disingenuous for anyone to balance high bills with a clean energy policy”.
“The sharp rise in fossil fuel prices and fun spending utilities are the main causes of consumer pain in Illinois. On the other hand, clean energy is key to combating the more costly consequences of climate change and controlling our energy costs in the future,” he said.
Chilsen said gas prices can change on a monthly basis while electricity prices change twice a year – October 1 and June 1.
Kennedy said the reason for this increase is not Ameren but cases outside the company’s control.
“Government agencies set the wholesale price of electricity. Ameren Illinois does not own power plants. We are a distribution company. We provide the energy that was purchased to our customers and pass on the costs of that energy directly to them dollar for dollar with no margin and no profit.”
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What does that mean for Purines
According to City Hall in a press release, city residents could see an increase of $500 annually.
The higher rates are likely to affect the Peoria and Peoria County Local Assembly Program, a voluntary program where people can hedge against rising energy costs in the market by participating in one large purchasing group.
Newly eligible accounts (eg, new residents moving to Peoria, or within Peoria) are given the opportunity to participate in the program via an opt-out letter stating the price and terms.
“We recognize that increased energy costs can place a financial burden on our community members, and the cities and counties participating in our purchasing group are working hard to provide the best possible alternative for our residents,” City Manager Patrick Orrich noted. “As more information becomes available about pricing and duration, we will be able to provide our residents, and we will make that available to everyone.”
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What can you do?
Aside from buying more expensive and energy-efficient appliances, both Chelson and Kennedy agreed that consumers could lower their bills with things that make sense that don’t cost a lot of money.
“Watch your thermostat so it doesn’t run all the time,” Kennedy said.
“Protecting your home around doors and windows from the elements isn’t expensive and isn’t very difficult,” added Chilsen.
Locally, officials say they must prepare and plan ahead.
“We urge both residential and commercial customers to check their energy use and plan ahead for these increases,” said Scott Sorrell, Peoria County Superintendent. “Ameren and Energy.gov Two great sources of energy- and cost-saving advice.”
Chilsen, a CUB spokesperson, also urged consumers to see if there is a way they can enter into a payment plan with their interest as a way to either spread out costs over a 12-month period or to avoid closing.
“Energy efficiency is always important. And during high billing periods, we realize how important it is. The cheapest kilowatt-hour and the cheapest thermal unit (natural gas unit) is the one you don’t use,” he said.
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