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Some Illinoisans not running A/C because of electric rates

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The heat wave that has settled on the Metro region is causing considerable hardship in Southern Illinois where utility rate increases have raised the cost of air conditioning.

Temperatures and humidity and humidity are expected to make it feel like 110 degrees today (Thurs).

< Pat Lewis is the Director of the Holy Angels Shelter in East St. Louis, Illinois. The shelter for homeless woman has been doubling as a cooling center.

We have been flooded with calls, even people with utilities," Lewis said. "They're afraid to turn those units on because of the high cost of utility bills.

Ameren raised electric rates in January, forcing some people to pay double or triple what they were before. Lewis says most of the calls that come are from elderly people living without AC in high-rise housing projects.

In East St. Louis, health officials and volunteers are busy checking up on retirees who've been calling in inquiring about fans.

Charles Jones is retired and lives with his brother and says their air conditioner is broken.

"I don't know how long it's been broken but I think it's probably from last year," Jones said. "He's retired and disabled and he probably hasn't had the money to replace it."

Jones was visiting a cooling center at a senior citizen's group home.

A seventy year-old East St. Louis man was found dead in his home on Tuesday. Police say the cause of death was heat-related; it's so far the only heat-related death reported in the region.