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Ameren expects lower natural gas prices for a second year

COLLINSVILLE – Ameren Illinois customers can expect another year with natural gas prices lower than the national average during the upcoming 2014-15 heating season, the company said Thursday.

“We are fully prepared for the winter season and expect stable prices for Ameren Illinois customers,” said Ameren Illinois Gas Supply Director Ken Dothage.

“Because of our price hedging and storage strategies along with the continued increase in natural gas production in the U.S., we anticipate that the gas supply portion of our customers’ bills will again be lower than the national average,” said Dothage. During the 2013-14 heating season which was 15 percent colder than normal, Ameren Illinois customers paid an average of $0.54 per therm. Ameren Illinois anticipates 2014-15 heating-season average prices to remain low in a range of $0.53-$0.55 per therm.

“We buy a significant amount of natural gas in the summer months when prices are typically lower and store it for use by our customers in the winter. Those savings are passed on to our customers,” said Dothage. “While the amount a customer pays will depend on winter temperatures and the actual amount of energy a customer uses, we have taken steps to insulate them from price volatility on the supply side.”

A large portion of a customer’s monthly bill is gas supply costs – including the cost of interstate gas transportation, leased storage, and the natural gas commodity itself. Due to much colder temperatures last winter, residential customers used more natural gas. If temperatures return to normal in the 2014-15 heating season, most customers should see lower overall bills as compared to last year.

Natural gas is a commodity which Ameren Illinois purchases from various producers for delivery to its customers. Ameren Illinois does not profit from or mark-up the cost of natural gas supplies purchased.

Dothage stressed that Ameren Illinois has adequate natural gas supplies to meet customer needs during the upcoming heating season. This winter Ameren Illinois will control 38.6 billion cubic feet of working gas volumes through its 12 natural gas storage fields and storage capacity it leases from interstate pipelines. Working gas is the amount of gas which can be withdrawn in a winter season.

In addition to funding capital investments to maintain its gas storage fields, which boosts system operational value during critically cold periods, Ameren Illinois said it continues to invest capital to maintain its gas transmission and distribution systems.

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