Ameren to raise delivery charge for electricity in 2019

By: Debra Pressey |

Ameren Illinois plans to raise its electric delivery charges on monthly power bills starting next year.

The average residential electric customer will see an increase of $4.50 per month in the electric-delivery charge — though the increase will be offset for some customers by lower electric-supply costs along with lower natural-gas prices, the utility said.

The 18 percent reduction in electric-supply charges will benefit only customers who buy their supply through Ameren, according to utility spokeswoman Marcelyn Love. Those customers can expect, on average, to see a net $5.47 decrease in their monthly bills as a result of both the higher delivery charges and lower supply costs.

Most Champaign-Urbana residents won’t see that offset, because while Ameren delivers their electricity, their supply costs are subject to municipal aggregation deals both cities have made with alternate suppliers.

Residents of both cities have the option to opt out of municipal-aggregation contracts and shop for their own electric suppliers, but most don’t, officials of both cities said.

Champaign contracts with Constellation NewEnergy for electric supply, and the rates under that contract are fixed through the July 2021 billing cycle.

Urbana contracts with Homefield Energy, and the rates under that contract are locked in until June 2019, then are set to drop by one-tenth of a penny per kilowatt hour through December 2020, according to Scott Tess, Urbana’s environmental sustainability manager.

While Ameren’s electric-delivery-only customers will bear the full effect of the electric-delivery rate increase, those who are also Ameren natural-gas customers will see a partial offset through lower natural-gas prices on the way.

Both electric and gas portions of customers’ bills vary by individual use, but Ameren said average-use residential customers can expect to see a 94-cent monthly reduction on the natural-gas-delivery portion of their bills and are likely see natural-gas-supply costs drop by 10 percent — resulting in an average $2.41 monthly savings.

The new electric- and natural-gas-delivery rates will kick in next year as a result of an Illinois Commerce Commission action Thursday permitting Ameren to recover its operational costs and continue investing in energy-delivery-system upgrades in the central and southern areas of the state, according to the utility.

Ameren said it plans to continue the next phase of upgrading its natural-gas- and electric-delivery infrastructure in the state next year.

Under the utility’s electric-modernization action plan, it’s installed storm-resistant utility poles and power lines, outage-detection technology and more than 1 million smart meters — both resulting in fewer power interruptions and, in the event of outages, getting power restored faster, it said.

The utility also announced in May that it would be expanding two power substations in and around Champaign to add capacity and enhance reliability.

Ameren said its gas-modernization plan has included replacing older pipelines and facilities with new gas-distribution equipment and technology.