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Ameren consultant says customers too poor and uneducated to benefit from program

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Background from the Peorial Journal Star

An Ameren Illinois energy efficiency plan that consumer advocates criticized for falling short on conservation and job goals now faces an uncertain future after being rejected in an early stage of the approval process.

An administrative law judge this week denied the utility company’s request to lower efficiency targets outlined in the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), but a final decision ultimately rests with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

That regulatory agency is expected to render a final decision in September.

“We have put forth the right plan to help working families in our territory to save energy, and we look forward to making our case with the Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a consortium of consumer and energy conservation advocates that challenged Ameren’s plan, praised the proposed order and urged the full commission to adopt the same stance.

* WTTW, with emphasis added

Approval of Ameren’s plan would cost downstate residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills and also jeopardize 7,000 jobs that could be created by the new law, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But Ameren says that without a lower target, it would need to spend 44 percent more per kilowatt hour of energy saved than ComEd because of “unique circumstances” of Ameren’s service territory, which covers much of rural Illinois.

“Ameren Illinois customers are quite different from Northern Illinois customers: they are more spread out, reside in multiple media markets, have less discretionary funding for energy efficiency and lower education levels,” said Ingrid Rohmund of consultant Applied Energy Group in testimony filed on behalf of Ameren. “The combination of these differences makes recruiting for program participation more difficult and more expensive. Less program participation derives fewer savings and therefore makes achieving the current unmodified savings goals on the aggregate that much more unrealistic.” […]

“Ameren casts itself as a principled advocate for social welfare, accusing the intervenors of wanting to ‘deny measures to those customers who need access to energy efficiency the most,’” the [NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and Citizens’ Utility Board] wrote in a brief filed with the commission. “In reality, however, Ameren is needlessly diminishing the quantity of savings benefits that could otherwise be made available to low-income customers.”

Great move.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    Okay it’s ComEd, but I signed up for their energy-saver thing. So far it’s garnered texts from them telling me there are peak hours in the late afternoon and I can save money by turning off stuff when in reality I’m at work and I’m not running anything but the fridge.

    If this is anything like that, I would think you would have to be not uneducated, but someone would have to be sucking IQ points out of your head to not understand it.

  2. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    I live downstate, can you provide this in audio form Rich? I apparently can’t read. Maybe someone from Chicago can interpret this for me.

  3. - AuH20 - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    See also: “Rural customers are too poor and uneducated to make an electric cooperative work.”

    The Rural Electrification Act turned out OK.

  4. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    Maybe the purpose of an electric generating company should be to provide energy that meets the needs of the customer. Maybe it shouldn’t be trying to comply with some fictitious social engineering goal. Maybe it’s time to end power utilities.

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    So the right-leaning part of the state has lower education levels? Color me shocked!

  6. - PJ - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    “Lower education levels” is just egregious. It may be technically true by the numbers but what she means is “these people are too dumb to figure out solar”. It’s not true and there’s no way to spin it.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Ameren has always looked out for the little guy. The CEO is 5′2″.

  8. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Downstate, we think renewable energy is when you rub two ears of corn together. Gaaaawlee.

  9. - 4 percent - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    The dripping hypocrisy of the environmental community is laughable. They had ZERO concern about increased cost of the Clean Energy Bill on residents and businesses. Now, they argue that customers will pay more because of less energy efficiency.

    Businesses and consumer groups opposed the bill because of the increased cost. They just want state law to create a forced market (at a much higher cost) for their preferred energy.

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    Ameren paid money for a consultant to say that out loud in a public forum? All the highly educated among them thought that was a good idea?

    So…. who’s supposed to be stupid here?

  11. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:03 pm:

    You know what else costs money 4 percent? Asthma. We have outrageous asthma rates in my neck of the woods. My daughter has it now.

  12. - Anon221 - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    I am sooo glad I’m in an electric cooperative that values its members and goes out of its way to offer energy saving solutions and rebates. They have never whined and complained like Ameren does and IP did.

  13. - franquias baratas 2018 - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    Olá só queria dar-lhe um breve heads-up e que você saiba alguns do imagens não estão carregando corretamente .
    Não sei porquê, mas eu acho que é uma questão de vinculação.
    Já tentei em dois diferentes navegadores e ambos mostram a
    mesma resultados .

  14. - Ghost - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    they posted record profits. its all about ripping people off.

  15. - Stooges - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    Geez, if Ameren’s southern Illinois customers are less well-off and less educated than the northern Illinois market, what does that make most of their Missouri customers outside of St. Louis?

  16. - Harvey Wetstone - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    There’s more than education levels that contribute to this problem. I’ve argued with more than one attorney on whether the sun rises on the east and sets in the west. There’s also the American culture of entitlement to be wasteful, the rollin’ coal pro-pollution crowd, and simple indifference.

  17. - nadia - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    For information purposes only, Ameren does not own any coal fired power plants in Illinois.

  18. - Rayne of Terror - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Hmm… Cornbelt customers must be smarter and richer I guess. We saw a billboard about their Geo Cents program and called. We knew our 25 yr old AC was on it’s last legs at the time. We ended up installing geothermal at our house in December instead of a new conventional furnace and air conditioner. Our rural friends and neighbors have been very curious to find out the ins and outs of the Geo Cents program and how we like having geothermal heating and cooling. I wonder what the ROI was for Cornbelt on that billboard? Can’t say that I’ve seen equivalent Ameren billboards.

  19. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Don’t like to respond to Anonymous posts but to the one at 11:36 — your degrees against mine, any time, any place.

    Bite me.

  20. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    Yes low-income and rural households can be hard to reach when it comes to delivering energy efficiency services. But these households tend to have higher energy burdens. Time for Ameren to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that is workable and cost-effective before throwing in the towel so soon.

  21. - Chicago_Downstater - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Ugh really?

    What the heck does “education-level” have to do with taking advantage of customer savings? My cousins without degrees can tell you a lot better about how to save money than I can. As my dad was fond of saying, “book smarts ain’t street smarts.”

    Condescension at it’s finest. Just hush up and do the work, Ameren. A busy tongue doesn’t lend itself to busy hands.

  22. - Muscular - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    The northern Illinois energy efficiency program had similar rates of participation at first. The problem was a heavy reliance on television advertising. Participation shot up when community organizers were hired and the mass advertising was dropped.

  23. - nadia - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    Ameren management is, for the most part, arrogant and condescending. Energy efficiency and environmental stewardship do not fit well with their conservative downstate and Missouri attitudes.

    They got what they wanted in the Clean Energy Jobs bill, an extension of an alternative cost recovery plan from ratepayers and now it appears they are trying to weasel out of what is required of them in the bill.

  24. - nadia - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    “We have put forth the right plan to help working families in our territory to save energy, and we look forward to making our case with the Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy.

    I guess their plan isn’t intended for non-working families, i.e. retired, disabled, unemployed, etc.

  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    Flapdoodle: I usually don’t respond to Blogger tough guys, especially with a handle that is perfect for one who brags about himself(?) regarding ivory tower time. Lol

  26. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    It’s true.
    When I moved south of I-80 I began losing my mind. I began to drive slower and more courteously, because I kept forgetting which car pedal was the accelerator. I got married and had a bunch of kids because I couldn’t remember what my TINDR password was. I bought a house because I forgot that you can rent instead.

    My education suffered similarly. My kids know more about how to use our satellite connections, log into VEVO, and run up an AT&T bill using a Disney Princess tablet, than I.

    Ameren really gets my plight.

  27. - Vinicius de Moraes - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    What’s up with the Portuguese phishing messages popping up on this website lately? Rich, you are perhaps becoming too well known outside the state.

  28. - walker - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    VMan: Boom

  29. - the Cardinal - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 3:09 pm:

    I done transplanted into the big breezy nigh on 25 years ago, but i can tell you event taday, Some of them there southern folks is smarter then they look. They sure don’t gots the crime and traffic congestion we got. Bet their extra $5-10 a month power bill is whole lots cheaper ten the motor gas we burn going nowhere on I-55.

  30. - IllinoisBoi - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    High school Graduate or Higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013 (percentage)

    McLean 94.4
    Champaign 93.6
    Woodford 93
    Monroe 92.8
    Piatt 92.7
    De Witt 92.6

    Well lookie there, the top 6 counties are all “downstate.” And most of those are near big state universities, surprise surprise.

  31. - Educ - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    Ameren manages to send me monthly notices about how awesome Ameren is (separate from my bill) but has not once told me about energy savings programs. It’s so weird. I guess the words in the energy savings ones are just too big for me to read.

  32. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    ….but they pay a good dividend.

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