Ameren Illinois officials say consumers should expect natural gas prices this winter to be similar to last year’s prices. The Peoria-based gas delivery company serves 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in southern and central Illinois. Ameren gas supply manager Ken Dothage says prices should stay the same this winter because North American gas supply has increased. He says slower U.S. and global economies along with a decreased worldwide demand for energy also play a role in the steady price of natural gas. However, Ameren officials warn that last winter was unusually mild so natural gas bills were lower. If temperatures return to normal, customers can expect to use more natural gas throughout the winter.