Power Smart Pricing - A Smart Electricity Rate from Ameren Illinois

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Illinois Households Save on Electricity with Power Smart Pricing

October 31, 2008

Families across Illinois are looking for ways to save on household expenses. Now nearly 2,500 households served by the Ameren Illinois Utilities are taking advantage of an energy pricing option that lets them be electricity bargain hunters, and more customers are signing up every day. The Power Smart Pricing program gives customers access to hourly, wholesale electricity prices. By shifting some of their electricity use to times of day when the price of electricity is low, program participants have achieved significant savings.

During 2007, Power Smart Pricing supply customers saved an average of 16 percent compared with what they would have paid on the standard residential generation service rate. CNT Energy anticipates that average savings during 2008 will be more than 10 percent, based on results so far this year.

CNT Energy is a nonprofit organization that helps Illinois residents save energy and money. The organization serves as the program administrator for Power Smart Pricing, providing personalized information, services and tools to help program participants get the best possible value from hourly pricing. The Ameren Illinois Utilities continue to respond to service calls, deliver customers’ power, and issue their bills. The Power Smart Pricing program offers pricing options for customer’s energy supply or electric commodity portion of their bills, which typically accounts for two thirds of a customer’s monthly charges. The other one third consists of delivery service charges. These charges are for the Ameren Illinois Utilities to maintain the poles, wires, and services required to deliver electricity to your home.

Dan E., a participant from Decatur, says he has been pleased with the program and with the information and support provided by CNT Energy. “We have been extremely impressed with not only the information on current electricity charges we receive from the Power Smart Pricing program, but also with the tips on how to conserve utility usage as well,” he says.

Power Smart Pricing participants can manage their electricity costs by being smart about both how much electricity they use, and when they use it.

Participant Mike O. of Murphysboro, says his family has been able to save with Power Smart Pricing both by shifting electricity usage to low priced hours, and by using electricity wisely in general. “By using electricity when it is cheap, our overall electric usage is down every month simply because everyone in the family is now more conscious of wasting energy,” he says. His family has also enjoyed the online tools that allow program participants to view their hourly electricity use, along with the hourly prices. “The kids get a kick out of looking at the charts on the website every month that illustrate our electric use,” he says.

Randy S. of Macomb says Power Smart Pricing has given his family an easy way to take more control over energy costs. “We most enjoy having the ability to influence our electrical costs,” he says. “Our family has not noticed the changes made in how we use electricity except that we wash dishes late at night and clothes early in the morning. The family does not seem to mind these changes as it gives an opportunity to help save money.” He says. “If you don’t mind planning a bit on how you use electricity, this plan can really reduce energy costs.”

Hourly electricity prices tend to follow predictable patterns, making it easy for participants to adjust their electricity use. Prices tend to be low during the evening, at night, and on weekends and holidays. Higher prices tend to occur during the summer on weekday afternoons. So saving money with the program can be as simple as adjusting the temperature on the air conditioning a few degrees on summer afternoons, and doing laundry and running the dishwasher in the evening and on weekends when prices are lower.

The program uses day-ahead electricity prices, meaning that hourly prices for each day are set the evening in advance. Participants can check hourly prices online or by phone, allowing them to plan their energy-saving actions. To make it even easier, CNT Energy sends Power Smart Pricing participants an alert (by phone or e-mail) the evening in advance any time hourly electricity prices will reach 13 cents per kWh or higher. Those who prefer not to check prices each day can simply keep price patterns in mind, then make a special effort to use energy wisely after receiving a high price alert.

Of course, all Power Smart Pricing participants can choose the energy and money savings strategies that work best for them. The program offers more ways to save on electricity, along with the tools and information they need to take greater control of their household energy costs. This program may not be your best option if you are on a special electric heat rate or have small amount of monthly usage.

For more information about Power Smart Pricing, go to www.powersmartpricing.org or contact CNT Energy at 1-877-655-6028