As a regulated entity, Ameren's job is to ensure that its utility customers are getting energy in the most reliable and cost-effective manner possible. So, competition among Ameren's suppliers is critical. As the company is taking full advantage of a competitive environment, Ameren trades with an array of producers and marketers.
CenterPoint Energy Services has earned its place among Amerens first-choice energy suppliers.
Ameren Corporation is a St. Louis-based energy company. It serves more than 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois. Ameren owns state regulated utilities – AmerenUE, AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and Ameren IP – as well as the non-regulated energy-generation assets, AmerenEnergy Resources and Electric Energy, Inc. Natural gas supply is critical to Ameren’s daily operations.
CES delivered gas to Ameren when other suppliers failed
|"CES stepped up to the plate and got us the gas we needed quickly and at a fair price - they did not exploit us and they supplied us when others couldn't."
Vice President, Ameren Illinois
Early in 1996, a record-setting freeze covering the South Central, Midcontinent and Midwest areas of the U.S. caused major supply disruptions on interstate natural gas pipelines. Supply constraint caused gas prices in the area to soar. Many gas producers and marketers greedily took advantage of the situation, charging three and four times the monthly index price. However, while other suppliers were curtailing deliveries and claiming ‘force majures,’ CenterPoint Energy Services pulled together its available resources and was able to supply gas to Ameren.
“CES stepped up to the plate and got us the gas we needed quickly and at a fair price,” said Scott Glaeser, vice president of Ameren Illinois. “They did not exploit us – and they supplied us when others couldn’t,” proving to Ameren that CES kept customers’ needs foremost and would not take advantage of a customer for a short-term gain.
Ameren sets clear standards, expectations for suppliers
In fact, this is just one example of why Ameren continues to choose CES to supply its natural gas. Ameren has a clearly defined set of standards for a supplier with whom it chooses to work, including:
provide extremely competitive pricing
build strong relationships between account executives and Ameren personnel
demonstrate comprehensive understanding of Ameren's operations and business requirements
provide financial stability, an especially critical standard given substantial credit defaults following the economic downturn of the past several years
Ameren insists on good customer service.
"We don't have time to fool around with inaccurate invoices or flawed contracts," Glaeser says. "We have a lot of gas we move and simply cannot afford to waste our time on sloppy customer service. Ameren expects its suppliers to get it right the first time and CES does just that."
And Ameren places heavy emphasis on the value of its relationship with the CES account executives.
"One problem we've had with other suppliers is what I call the revolving door with reps - we spend a lot of time working with them and training them on the way we do business, and then they're gone, and we need to start all over again," Glaeser explains. "Our CES account executives have a strong understanding of the market, they know the pipelines and production and more importantly, they have taken the time to learn our business - what we do and why."
Ameren has worked with CES for more than 17 years. When asked about CES’ success over its competitors, Glaeser said, “The edge CES has with us is the relationship – if two suppliers came to us and were equally price competitive, we’d choose CES just because they have proven their relationship with us time and time again.”