Ameren Illinois Utilities faced a daunting obligation.
Already slogging through a challenging 2007, the company was tasked by the state to meet new, stringent energy-use goals, termed “energy efficiency resource standards” (EERS).
“We were faced with aggressive goals,” said Keith Martin, Ameren’s manager of customer service and energy efficiency. Many customers, he said, think about curbing their energy consumption only in lean times, when paying their bills is a struggle. So how could Ameren effectively communicate the need for energy conservation to its 1.2 million electric customers and 840,000 natural gas customers?
Worse, many of these customers were already unhappy with the company after the deregulation of utilities brought higher energy prices and several storms had caused outages that year.
Staff morale was low, too, so in order to meet regulatory goals and improve its relationship with customers and employees, Ameren’s community and public relations team had to act decisively—and comprehensively. They started by engaging the company’s 2,700 employees, known as “co-workers” in Ameren’s corporate culture.