COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — A group of protesters chanted in front of Ameren Illinois' Headquarters in Collinsville Thursday, demanding to lower the costs of their energy bills.
"This crisis affects everybody," Wyvetta Granger from Community Lifeline Family Resource Center said.
She aims to connect people in need with programs to help pay the rising costs.
"A lot of the concerns come from our elderly, again who don't have the option of rate increase who are living off of pensions or fixed incomes," Granger said.
"My husband and I are both on pensions and we're not going to get a rate increase on our pensions this year but we're still going to have to deal with it," Illinois customer Tony Oplt said.
Oplt is one of thousands of customers who is impacted.
Ameren said natural gas prices have skyrocketed in part from the war in Ukraine and restrictions on Russian fuel.
"My average bill I would say in the summer goes somewhere up at peak time around $200 and most of that will electric," Oplt said.
The average customer will see an annual increase of about $620 or an average of about $50 a month.
"One of the entities that needs to pull together for us is Ameren. Ameren needs to come to the table. Ameren needs to build out solar. Ameren needs to stand up and do what they promised to do," Oplt said.
Ameren lists programs on its site that can help people pay for their summer bills.
"They were already tight on energy and trying to cut back sometimes not even using their air conditioner but now that the rate increase has happened they know this is going to affect them greatly," Granger said.
Ameren Illinois has programs that help low-moderate income customers and senior citizens.
They offer bill credits for reducing energy usage during peak times.
You can always just call your utility provider for more information on how to get help.
Ameren sent a statement saying:
"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."