PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local advocates for clean energy are calling on Ameren to take action to lower energy bills.

Ameren Illinois estimates bills will increase by about $50 dollars starting this month.

The reason for the increase in prices has been attributed to the war in Ukraine, inflation, and clean energy sources not filling the gap left behind as fossil fuel plants close or prepare to close.

During a rally outside of Ameren Illinois’ offices in downtown Peoria, Thursday morning, clean energy supporters said Ameren should work to accelerate renewable energy projects.

They also added that the company should reduce demand through energy efficiency.

“They would be best positioned to deal with rate relief for low-income, middle-income consumers who are going to be hit hard by this bill. I think just saying sorry it’s more expensive now, that’s not enough. They should be fighting for us, they should be advocating for us,” said Tracy Fox with Ilinois People’s Action.

Alisha Granderson with the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club said extra costs on energy bills will put a strain on families.

“We work hard for our money, and we’d like to receive that. We’d also like to be able to save a little bit of that for a rainy day, and we’re not able to if you’re constantly having to pour out more and more and more for things like electric bills,” Granderson said.

Advocates said Ameren should also find ways to decrease the distribution portion of energy bills.

Leadership at Ameren has said the supply portion is what will cause bills to rise this summer and that cost
is passed through directly to customers, without profit.

“That’s not the whole story. I’m here to ask Ameren to step up to the plate and spend some of their record profits since the pandemic on programs to help people who are going to struggle to pay their utility bills,” said Joyce Harant with the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance.

“The federal grid operator and the state agency responsible for purchasing energy for our customers have both acknowledged that the increase in power supply prices is the result of global market factors and is not the responsibility of Ameren Illinois. To be clear: Ameren Illinois does not generate energy and does not profit from energy supply.

For nearly six years, consumer advocates have boasted that an aggressive transition to renewables would create jobs and lower customer bills.  Now, with an energy shortage driving power prices higher for working families, these same groups are pointing the finger at the energy companies they excluded from participating in policy discussions. 

Our focus is on doing what we can to help our customers manage through these challenging times while extending a hand to any of the parties who wish to work on a long term solution.”

– Tucker Kennedy, communications director with Ameren Illinois

Thursday, Peoria County and the City of Peoria also announced that a local energy aggregate was unable to secure a new contract by June 3.

Customers of Homefield Energy will switch to Ameren rates through May 2023. It is estimated that customers who normally pay $125 for electricity will pay around $250 due to the switch.

Leaders also urge said residents should be aware they may be solicited by other energy suppliers.

“We urge all aggregate customers to be wary of any third-party offers,” said Scott Sorrel, Peoria County
Administrator. “Should the aggregate enter a supply contract in 2023, all current customers will automatically
go onto the aggregate pricing. Residents are not required to do anything at this time or in the future.”