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Good news for Ameren natural gas customers?

Bundled up child

No one can predict exactly what winter weather we’ll see, but we can be prepared.

Ameren is predicting its customers will see lower natural gas prices this winter—but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll see lower bills.

The utility says it expects prices to hover between 53 and 55 cents per therm, down about 5 percent from the prices customers paid last winter. But Ameren cautioned that lower prices don’t guarantee savings. If this winter is colder than last year’s relatively mild season, customers could see their usage—and their costs—spike.

In fact, earlier this month, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted Midwest natural gas bills would actually jump 13 percent this winter, costing consumers about $80 more to heat their homes, on average.

Adding to the uncertainty, Ameren is quietly pushing for a gas rate hike of about $50 million, which would hit customers’ bills in the heart of the winter heating season. If granted the full amount, a typical bill could increase by as much as $4 per month, depending on the Ameren zone in which you live. CUB is challenging the company’s request, now at about $47.8 million, and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is expected to make a decision in December. (Help us fight the increase by contributing to our rate-hike defense fund.)

The bottom line is that you can’t count on the utilities or the weather to keep your bills low. That’s why CUB released our Guide to Illinois Energy Efficiency Incentives detailing nearly $37 million in annual rebates, discounts and programs available to Land of Lincoln consumers. We also recently listed 11 actions to slash your energy bills this winter