I know, I know, it’s a bit shocking, but please just nod, smile, and enjoy it while you can. It’s not often that you get to pay LESS for electricity. Not sure how to tell how much you’ll save? Don’t worry, we get that question ALL the time. That’s because your Ameren electricity rate structure is so entirely convoluted! Chances are, you can’t even read your bill. (Which, apparently, is quite the norm in this industry.)
Don’t Sweat It
Allow us to help you out. Here’s a quick rundown of the rate changes and what they mean for you.
There are four different rate “zones” in Ameren:
- - Zone I
- - Zone I (Metro East)
- - Zone II
- - Zone III
(Zones I and III also have separate rate classes for “space heat” consumers – also known as electric heat – which we will not discuss for this example since they are not typical.)
The zones themselves relate to specific sections of the current Ameren service area that were then brought together by a merger in 2010 of several utilities with Ameren. With these rate zones come the rate structures that these zones held prior to the merger.
On top of this, the rates you pay for electricity can vary depending on how much electricity you use, and what time of year you are consuming it.
- - In Rate Zone I (Metro East), prior to the rate change that takes effect this month, you were paying 6.685¢ for the first 800 kWh of usage per month. If you were to exceed 800 kWh of electricity per month, you would then pay 2.265¢ for the usage over and above 800 kWh. So, what that means is that you actually pay less if you use more electricity! I did say it was convoluted, right?
- - A similar rate tier was in effect for Zone II as well. Those in Zone II paid slightly less at 6.636¢ for usage up to 800 kWh, but then paid more for usage above 800 kWh at 4.468¢. Complicated much? Yep!
Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy
These rates were only in effect until June, and then it all goes to hell in a hand basket. (Not really, but I had to make it sound dramatic for effect.) In fact, the rate structure actually simplifies a bit in the summer. The change in rates for usage above 800 kWh merely goes away. In other words, you pay the same amount no matter how much electricity you consume. This is pretty smart on Ameren’s part, because most people use more electricity in the summer months. I went ahead and made you this handy little chart for reference:
Now, you want to pay attention to your Rate Zone, and then the corresponding numbers below the yellow box (Summer). That amount is how much you are paying per kWh for the supply and transmission portion of your electricity. So, if you switch to a new electricity supplier, this is the portion of your bill that will change.
Hypothetically, let’s say you live in zip code 61341, which is Rate Zone III. Previously you were paying 6.636¢ per kWh. Beginning in June, you will be paying 6.169¢ per kWh. So, if you use 500 kWh of electricity, you would have paid $33.18. Under the new Summer rate structure, you will pay $30.85 in electricity supply and transmission charges for 500 kWh of usage.
Less Is More. Right??
So, why should you care? You are paying less, after all. Isn’t that all that matters? Ah, NO. It’s important to note that these are Ameren’s supply plus transmission rates. And you could be paying even less through an alternative electricity supplier. Currently, there are rates available between 5.00¢ and 5.50¢ per kWh from alternative electricity suppliers. That’s a savings of 11-19%, depending on the plan you choose – which vary in length and terms. All of these are fixed rates, which means they are set for the entire length of the plan.
Live in a different zip code within Ameren’s territory?? See for yourself how much you can save on your electricity HERE. Just type in your zip code, check out the rates and plans, and then switch! It’s easy – just takes five short minutes – and it’s FREE. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make the switch. That is, unless you prefer to keep spending more for electricity. If that’s the case, you are on your own, my friend! And be sure to stay far away from Power2switch.com, because we are here to help you SAVE on your electricity! And that is about the farthest thing from “convoluted” there is.
Alexa Hughes is blogger extraordinaire for Power2Switch, a comparison-shopping site for consumers seeking lower electric rates, based out of Chicago. You can find Alexa on Twitter.