Ameren Missouri is releasing $1.4 million in energy assistance funds ahead of schedule to help finncially-strapped customers pay their utility bills. “For their safety we have encouraged our customers to use their air conditioners during the extensive heat wave. We know utility bills are going to be high. So we’re making available energy assistance funds to help our customers pay their bills and stay safe,” says a spokesman for the utilit company. Customers needing energy assistance can find a list of agency’s distributing the funds on Ameren Missouri’s web site, at www.AmerenMissouri.com , or by calling the United Way at 1-800-427-4626.