Electric Competition: What Ameren customers should know
What are my choices?
In Southern and Central Illinois, you can choose Ameren, the regulated utility, to supply you with power, or go with an alternative supplier chosen by you or your municipality. This guide covers individual electricity offers. Read CUB's fact sheet for information on municipal aggregation.

Remember, even if you choose an alternative supplier, you're simply buying electricity from that company. Ameren will still bill you to deliver the electricity to your home, and you'll still call the utility in the event of a power outage.

While it's an interesting development in the electric market, long-term savings are not guaranteed.
Do I get a single bill?
You should get a single bill, but it's a good detail to check. Also, ask if your bill will be paper or online. Most of the suppliers simply include their charges on your Ameren bill, but some (Champion and AEP) send you their own bill.
Will going with an alternative supplier protect me from Ameren rate hikes?
No, Ameren will still bill you to deliver the electricity to your home, and the company periodically will try to raise these "delivery rates" before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). (Help CUB battle rate hikes!)
What happens when my contract ends?
When your contract is up (or you cancel), you are subject to a 12-month stay with Ameren, the utility, if you do not choose another supplier within two months. Some of the companies offer green energy plans. Typically, here's how such plans work:

For a slightly higher price than the company's standard fixed rate, the company pledges to buy "renewable energy certificates," or RECs, from a company that produces wind power. That ensures that the wind company will deliver an amount of renewable energy to somewhere in the electricity system that is equal to the amount you consume. So enrolling in a renewable program doesn't mean that the actual power you use is coming from a wind farm.

Although RECs are a legitimate option for consumers, there are other ways to help the environment without paying extra for your electricity. For example, practicing energy efficiency at home can be even more effective. Also CUB sees Illinois' renewable portfolio standard, requiring state utilities to use a certain percentage of renewable energy, as a much more effective way to make the electricity system cleaner and more stable.
What else can I do to cut my electric bill and make my home more efficient?
Energy efficiency is key to keeping power bills low in the long term. Learn about energy efficiency rebates and programs available to help Ameren customers reduce their electric and natural gas bills.
What details should I look for in the fine print?
Find out:

1. If the price changes after the intial term.
2. If the company charges an exit fee for getting out of the deal before the term is up.
3. If the company charges a monthly fee that will inflate its advertised price.
4. If a contract clause allows the company to get out of the rate it has promised.
5. If the company charges a deposit.
6. If you're eligible to sign up for the company's offer. AEP Energy, for example, does not allow LIHEAP customers and those on deferred payment plans to take advantage of its offers. Warning: Customers using electricity as their primary source of heat as well as customers on Ameren's Power Smart Pricing pay a special rate for their power. Verify if you're on a special utility rate, so you can do an apples-to-apples comparison with the rate an alternative supplier is offering.
What are the offers?
Compare an alternative supplier's price to these Ameren prices, depending on your zone.

Zone 1 (formerly AmerenCIPS)
4.465 cents per kWh (October 2014)
4.571 cents per kWh (November 2014-May 2015)

Zone 1-Metro East (formerly AmerenCIPS-Metro East)
4.465 cents per kWh (October 2014)
4.571 cents per kWh (November 2014-May 2015)

Zone 2 (formerly AmerenCILCO)
4.361 cents per kWh (October 2014)
4.467 cents per kWh (November 2014-May 2015)

Zone 3 (formerly AmerenIP)
4.441 cents per kWh (October 2014)
4.547 cents per kWh (November 2014-May 2015)

Alternative Electric Supplier Offers
Company
Rate (ยข/kWh)
Exit Fee
Term
AEP Energy
1-866-258-3782
5.49 fixed
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 1
1-877-282-6248
5.66 fixed
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 1
1-877-282-6248
7.66 fixed*
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 1
1-877-282-6248
7.64 variable (7.85 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 1
1-877-282-6248
9.64 variable* (9.64 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 1 Metro East
1-877-282-6248
5.66 fixed
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 1 Metro East
1-877-282-6248
7.66 fixed*
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 1 Metro East
1-877-282-6248
7.64 variable (7.85 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 1 Metro East
1-877-282-6248
9.64 variable* (9.64 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 2
1-877-282-6248
5.66 fixed
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 2
1-877-282-6248
7.66 fixed*
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 2
1-877-282-6248
7.64 variable (7.85 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 2
1-877-282-6248
9.64 variable* (9.64 new customer rate) variable*
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 3
1-877-282-6248
5.66 fixed
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 3
1-877-282-6248
7.66 fixed*
None
12 months
Ambit Zone 3
1-877-282-6248
7.64 variable (7.85 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit Zone 3
1-877-282-6248
9.64 variable* (9.85 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Champion
1-888-653-0087
6.5 fixed
$10 per month left
6 months
Champion
1-888-653-0087
6.3 fixed
$10 per month left
12 months
Champion
1-888-653-0087
6.7 fixed
$10 per month left
24 months
Clearview Energy
1-888-257-8439
8.29 variable*
None
Monthly
Clearview Energy
1-888-257-8439
6.99 variable (Guaranteed rate for remainder of year)*
None
Monthly
Constellation
1-866-577-4700
5.99 fixed
$150
(3-month opt-out period)
12 months
Constellation
1-866-577-4700
5.89 fixed
$150
(3-month opt-out period)
18 months
Direct Energy
1-866-910-3401
6.20 fixed
None
6 months
Direct Energy
1-866-910-3401
6.40 fixed (6.30 for military)
None
12 months
Direct Energy
1-866-910-3401
6.45 fixed
None
18 months
Direct Energy
1-866-910-3401
6.99 fixed, plus Nest Thermostat
$200 Cancellation Fee
24 months
Direct Energy
1-866-910-3401
7.09 fixed, plus Nest Thermostat
$200 Cancellation Fee
36 months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
6.339 fixed
None
6 months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
6.679 fixed
None
12 months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
6.859 fixed
None
24 months
Homefield Energy
1-866-694-1266
5.484 fixed
None
12 months
Homefield Energy
1-866-694-1266
5.612 fixed
None
24 months
Homefield Energy
1-866-694-1266
5.632 fixed*
None
12 months
Homefield Energy
1-866-694-1266
5.768 fixed*
None
24 months
Integrys
1-888-688-1236
6.27 fixed
$50
12 months
Integrys
1-888-688-1236
6.42 fixed
$50
24 months
MidAmerican Energy
1-800-432-8574
5.2 fixed
None
Through December 2015
Nordic Energy Services
1-877-808-1022
Varies with custom pricing
No
Varies
PALMco
1-877 726-5862
4.1 variable (first 2 months only)
None
Monthly
Realgy Energy Services
1-877-300-6747
7.11 variable
$3.75 monthly fee, $50 exit fee
24 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
7.08 variable*
None
Monthly
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
5.99 fixed*
$50
36 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
6.99 fixed*
$50
36 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
8.08 variable*
None
Monthly
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
4.24 variable* (2 months only, then variable or 36-month fixed)
$50 exit fee (for fixed rate)
Monthly
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
5.39 variable (2 months only)
None
Monthly
Note: Prices as of Oct. 15, 2014.