June 12, 2012

Warm Weather Brings the 2012 Summer Energy Guide

Now that there were into June, it's fair to say that summer has arrived. For Power Smart Pricing customers that means that hourly price patterns will nudge some hours above the flat residential rate that most Ameren customers are paying. Each year we like to develop a guide that can help program participants get the most out of Power Smart Pricing by shifting their usage away from the highest hourly prices.

Top Summer Tips:
  • Reduce electricity usage between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. (especially on hot summer days).
  • Limit air conditioning usage during higher priced hours and try pre-cooling to take advantage of lower priced hours.
Today's temperature happens to be a little cool so the highest hourly price is only 2.8 cents per kWh from 3pm to 4pm. However, hot summer weekdays often feature the highest prices of the year. The 2012 Summer Energy Guide is now available to download at http://www.powersmartpricing.org/tools/summer-tips/summer-readiness-201/. You can also find the best summer energy tips for Power Smart Pricing customers at http://www.powersmartpricing.org/tools/summer-tips/.

It really can be simple. Avoid the usage of your biggest electrical appliances, like your air conditioning, during weekday afternoons and you'll take advantage of lower prices and save money all year round.

May 24, 2012

Changes to Rate Options Around Illinois

Over the past few months Retail Electricity Suppliers and voter referendums on the municipal aggregation of electricity pricing has created a lot of new options for your household electricity. It's important to understand these new options to be sure to get the best deal for your home, and since most customers around Illinois are not on Power Smart Pricing there has been some confusion among our participants about how to properly compare these new choices.

How can I compare savings with Power Smart Pricing to offers from other electricity suppliers?
Since Power Smart Pricing started in 2007, participants have saved an average of 16 percent on their total electricity bills compared with what they would have paid on the standard residential rate. However, if you look at the electricity supply portion of the bill only, participants have saved an average of 25 percent on electricity supply with Power Smart Pricing. The program does not impact other line items under delivery services or taxes, which remain the same as they would be on the standard rate. In terms of dollar amounts saved, customers who would have paid an average of $100 per month on the standard rate (including all portions of the bill) have saved nearly $200 per year with Power Smart Pricing.

This year you may have noticed companies other than Ameren Illinois offering discounted electricity supply rates in your area. These companies are referred to as Retail Electric Suppliers. Retail Electric Suppliers are companies that have received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission to offer an alternative competitive price for the electricity supply that you use. Their offers cover the supply portion of your bill, but like Power Smart Pricing, do not change the delivery services portion of your bill. As a Power Smart Pricing customer, you need to be aware of the following in order to make an informed decision when considering switching to a Retail Electricity Supplier:
  • If you sign up for a Retail Electric Supplier, you will be removed from Power Smart Pricing. At this time, you cannot enroll in both.
  • Savings messages provided by Retail Electric Suppliers are not estimates of savings compared with the prices you pay with Power Smart Pricing. They usually reference how much you might save compared with the Ameren Illinois standard BGS residential rate. For more information about electricity supply prices with Power Smart Pricing and the BGS residential rate, go to powersmartpricing.org/about-hourly-prices/.
  • Savings messages in offers from Retail Electric Suppliers usually refer to the electricity supply portion of the bill only. To make an “apples-to-apples” comparison of these offers with the savings you are getting with Power Smart Pricing, log in to the online bill comparison tool at www.powersmartpricing.org and look at your percent saved on the electricity supply portion of your bill only, or your total dollar amount saved. Since 2007, Power Smart Pricing participants have saved an average of 25 percent on electricity supply costs compared with the Ameren Illinois standard BGS rate.
  • If you switch to a Retail Electric Supplier, you can switch back to Power Smart Pricing once you switch back to utility supply service.
What is municipal aggregation and how does it impact Power Smart Pricing participants?
In addition to the choices available to individuals, government entities such as municipalities and unincorporated counties may opt to negotiate rates on behalf of an entire community. This is referred to as municipal aggregation, and the government entity is known as a government aggregator (GA).
Government aggregation can be set up as “opt in,” meaning that residents need to sign up in order to be placed on the rate negotiated by the community. In other cases, it can be set up as “opt out,” meaning that residents will automatically be placed on the aggregation rate unless they request otherwise. In order for the government aggregator to pursue an opt-out strategy, the community must first hold a referendum. If the referendum passes, the GA can then negotiate a rate on behalf of all residents.

The government aggregator of each community will be responsible for deciding whether or not to include Power Smart Pricing participants in municipal aggregation, and if participants are included, whether they would need to opt in or opt out. This means that we do not know in advance which Power Smart Pricing customers will need to opt out of municipal aggregation if they wish to stay on Power Smart Pricing.

It is very important to read any correspondence provided by the GA or Ameren Illinois to find out how municipal aggregation could impact you as a Power Smart Pricing customer. This correspondence will let you know whether you need to take any action in order to either stay with Power Smart Pricing or move to the municipal aggregation rate.

May 1, 2012

Prices Significantly Lower to Start 2012

Hourly prices have started out much lower in 2012 than 2011. A mild winter combined with an extended heat wave in the month of March has led to low hourly electricity prices due to less demand for both electricity as well as a natural gas. Of course this is only an indication of how things appear at the moment. Prices will ultimately go up with the temperatures. So now is a good time to get accustomed to checking the prices especially on weekday afternoons. Happy saving!

2012 1st Quarter Average - 2.454
March 2012 - 2.312
February 2012 - 2.471
January 2012 - 2.576

2011 1st Quarter Average - 3.240
March 2011 - 3.150
February 2011 - 3.094
January 2011 - 3.458

Click here to see more historical hourly price averages. 

March 7, 2012

Communities Use ActOnEnergy for Big Energy Savings

Ameren Illinois' ActOnEnergy to find ways to get energy savings in your home. You can receive discounts on everything from lightbulbs to overhauling your HVAC system.

Recently Ameren Illinois recognized some communities that have achieved excellent results. Danville, IL businesses completed over 50 ActOnEnergy projects that received nearly $264,000 in incentive payments. Meanwhile Granite City, IL completed 32 ActOnEnergy programs that received an amazing $793,000. 

Other communities around Illinois have achieved great energy savings through these programs.  The 61 participating Decatur businesses save 18.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, which is enough savings to meet the demands of 1,870 single-family homes for a year.

The ActOnEnergy program now has $19.2 million worth of incentives available, which has increased from $3 million when it started in 2008. So be sure to get in on the act and your community might be recognized as one of Illinois' "Most Progressive Cities."

March 6, 2012

Prices Are Temporarily Down

UPDATE: Prices are back up. The hourly prices on www.powersmartpricing.org are temporarily down. Please visit https://www2.ameren.com/RetailEnergy/realtimeprices.aspx for a list of today's prices.
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