When Robert Hancock of Carterville, IL got his monthly power bill, it made him mad. Why? Because it was $526.62—up 200% from the previous month.
Illinois’ 10-year electric rate freeze had expired and Ameren, the company that supplies power to Carterville and a huge swath of the rest of Illinois, raised its rates. A lot.
Robert decided to fight back by arranging to pay his bill entirely in pennies. 52,662 of them. Now it seems that Robert’s “eff you” to Ameren was not in vain. From Forbes:
Ameren officials announced Monday that they’ll be sending out $140 million in rebate checks and bill credits starting this week, promising each customer at least $85 back in the mail.
Starting Wednesday, checks will be sent to 935,000 residential customers and continue for a month, closely synched to the company’s billing cycle. Credits will show up on bills sent to 133,000 residential customers behind in payments by at least two months and bills for 13,000 small business owners.
Ameren hopes the announcement is the start of a public image turnaround after a year of battering. Customers were caught off guard by huge rate increases in January after a 10-year rate freeze, and the backlash forced Ameren and ComEd to cut back the increases.
“Our customers have asked for rate relief and we are delivering it,” Stan Ogden, an Ameren vice president in charge of customer service, said in a statement.
The checks and credits are part of a $1 billion rate relief package negotiated by the utilities and state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich two weeks ago to ease the customer outrage.
Hooray for consumer outrage!
Ameren customers can expect at least $100 back in rebates and credits, but more will be coming depending on how much electricity you consume and if you use electricity to heat your home. ComEd customers can expect some relief as well. According to ComEd’s spokesperson, ComEd customers will see a $60 credit on their October bills and $7 a month after that. If you don’t see a credit on your bill, you’ll want to contact ComEd to complain.
Ameren Customers to Receive Rebates [Forbes]