Central Illinois energy rates to double, stick around for a year

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:45 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Central Illinois consumers will pay double for energy starting this month, as a deal mitigating costs for many communities expires, with no new contract in sight.

Communities like Peoria, Morton and East Peoria all participate in municipal aggregation programs. They will all see rates increase from around $0.05 per kilowatt hour to $0.10 per kilowatt hour, as they switch to Ameren’s standard rates when the current deal expires. The new rates start with the June meter reads that you pay for in July.

“The best case scenario may be going back to the utility may not be so bad considering the circumstances,” Morton Public Works Director Craig Loudermilk said. “We’re still going to be lower than what’s out there.”

The switch was only supposed to be for a few months while a third party negotiated a new contract on their behalf. Now, those communities plan to keep Ameren’s rates for an entire year, saying they are better than what they can negotiate for.

“We have probably the largest buying group in Ameren’s service territory,” Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a contract. We couldn’t proceed with that.”

The group represents dozens of communities and more than 100,000 total accounts in the area. The hope is that rates go back down to normal levels by the time negotiation comes up again next year.

The causes for the record-high electricity rates, both say, are continuing market volatility and low energy supply, amid a statewide switch from coal fire to renewable energy. They argue that switch is undoubtedly good in the long run, but it may be going to quickly.

“We’ve gone too far, too fast toward 100 percent renewables which are not as consistent as to what we’re used to,” Loudermilk said.

They advise, in the short-term, for homeowners and businesses to reduce energy consumption and keep thermostats set higher. East Peoria Director of Buildings and Inspections Robert Cole says you can also save money by using electricity at night, and not during peak hours.

“Proper insulation. Scheduling your energy load on off peak hours,” Cole said. “Between 1 (p.m.) and 6 (p.m.) is pretty expensive.”

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