Looking to tackle high energy bills for its customers from the demand side, the Ameren Illinois Utilities on Tuesday filed an energy efficiency plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) designed to help customers save money by reducing their natural gas usage.

“Through this comprehensive natural gas energy efficiency plan, we will help customers save money by using less natural gas without sacrificing personal comfort or safety,” said Stan Ogden, vice president for customer service and public relations for the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP).

Ogden said the plan will complement the Ameren Illinois Utilities’ electric energy efficiency plan, which was approved by the ICC on Feb. 6, 2008. “Natural gas energy efficiency initiatives will allow customers to take advantage of a range of incentives that not only will help reduce natural gas usage, but will help lower electrical usage, as well,” Ogden said.

As proposed by the Ameren Illinois Utilities, the natural gas energy efficiency plan will begin in January 2009. Customers will be given a variety of options by which to cut their energy costs. For example, the plan proposes incentives for residential customers to install high-efficiency furnaces, automatic programmable thermostats, water heater and hot water pipe insulation, wall insulation and low-emissivity double-pane windows. In addition, there also will be programs for low-income customers and incentives for apartment building owners and commercial customers that will help them improve energy efficiency.

By the end of the program’s first year, the Ameren Illinois Utilities estimate the efforts will reduce gas usage by an amount sufficient to serve about 1,400 single-family homes for a year. In the second year the goal is to reduce usage by an amount equal to the natural gas needed to supply about 2,800 single-family homes for one year. By the end of the third year the target is to reduce usage by an amount equal to the annual natural gas requirements of about 4,200 homes.

The energy efficiency programs will be funded by a small ICC-approved charge that will appear on customer bills. For a residential customer using 750 therms/year, this charge will average about 36 cents/month. The company said customers who improve their energy efficiency at homes or at their businesses can anticipate savings “well in excess of this small charge.”

The Ameren Illinois Utilities serve 1.2 million electric and 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.

©Copyright 2008Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.