Ameren to give all customers rebates, credit on electric bills

Ron Pate, vice president of regional operations for Ameren Illinois utilities, addresses the media in East St. Louis, Ill., on Monday. Ameren officials announced plans to send out $140 million in rebate checks and credits. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, ERIK HOLTMANN

AP

Ron Pate, vice president of regional operations for Ameren Illinois utilities, addresses the media in East St. Louis, Ill., on Monday. Ameren officials announced plans to send out $140 million in rebate checks and credits. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, ERIK HOLTMANN

By Jim Shur

Soaring electricity costs have taken a bite out of the bottom line at Ken Clarida’s restaurant in the southern Illinois town of Benton, prompting him to raise prices, including a 50-cent markup on hamburgers, to $1.99.

Clarida, who’s also grappling with a recent $1-an-hour increase in the state’s minimum wage, got some good news Monday with the announcement by Ameren Corp. that long-awaited rate relief was on the way in the form of rebate checks or bill credits.

St. Louis-based Ameren said it would begin mailing the checks Wednesday to its Illinois customers.

Ameren held news conferences to trumpet the $140 million in relief to its customers in central and southern Illinois, promising each customer at least $100 back by the end of the year – $85 through the initial checks or credits, the rest through monthly credits.

Customers who don’t use electricity to heat their homes will get about $130 back this year, and customers who have electric heat will get about $400. The deal rolls back the increases customers paid this year by about half, with the actual rebate tied to total electric usage.

The checks and credits are part of a $1 billion rate relief package negotiated by the utilities and state lawmakers to ease customer outrage after a 10-year rate freeze ended in January and electric bills spiked for many consumers in Illinois. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the package into law two weeks ago.