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Ameren Illinois plans a rate cut for electricity customers

Belleville News Democrat

Friday, April 14, 2017  |  Article  |  By Joseph Bustos

Energy, Alternative Energy (93) , Utilities (94)
Ameren Illinois said its residential customers can expect to pay less for the delivery of electricity in 2018 under a plan filed Thursday with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

The proposal would lower bills for the typical residential customer who uses 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year by approximately $1.70 per month.

The total request is $16.3 million less than what the utility expects to bring in during 2017, said Marcelyn Love, an Ameren Illinois spokeswoman.

If approved, the annual delivery rate request would be the second consecutive rate decrease the company has filed for, and the fifth overall rate decrease proposal since the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act — or smart grid legislation — was passed in 2011.

“Prudent cost management, solid project execution and reduced energy supply costs have enabled us to continue modernizing the electric grid with minimal impact on customer rates,” said Craig Nelson, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and financial services for Ameren Illinois, in a news release. “We’re pleased to report to the ICC and to our customers that Ameren Illinois electric delivery service rates will go down next year and our combined delivery and supply rates will remain well below the national average.”

In 2017, Ameren Illinois expects to invest an additional $128.4 million on electric grid enhancements, the utility said. The project costs, along with other capital improvements of more than $300 million to maintain distribution equipment and install equipment to detect and reduce the frequency of power outages, will be recovered in 2018.

The grid modernization work has resulted in an overall 17 percent increase in reliability and saved customers an estimated $45 million each year, the utility said.

As part of the grid modernization work, the utility has installed 450,000 electric smart meters at customer premises and plans to add 540,000 more of the two-way devices through the end of 2018, Ameren said. Smart meters provide Ameren Illinois customers with energy usage data and access to programs to help them save money on their energy bills.

The ICC will undergo an eight-month review of the utility’s request, and the rate structure would go into effect in January if approved.