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Government, Politics & Issues

Legislation To Allow Surcharge For Electric System Upgrades Stalls In Mo. Senate

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation has stalled in the Missouri Senate that would allow investor-owned electric companies to charge consumers for infrastructure improvements.

Opponents argued that Ameren Missouri, Empire District and Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) make enough money to pay for improvements without levying an Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) on their customers.  Several Senators are blocking the measure, including Republican Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph.

"This bill is going to cause a lot of pain to older people," Schaaf said.  "This bill before us will increase the costs to, you know, the average person on the street."

A combination of filibuster speeches and floor debate stretched on for nearly three and a half hours Wednesday night before the bill was laid aside.  At times, the Senate chamber was nearly empty as Schaaf spoke.  He responded by asking for quorum calls, during which debate was suspended until enough Senators were on the floor.

The bill's supporters say infrastructure upgrades funded by the surcharge would create new jobs and lead to a better bond rating, which in turn would result in less costs being passed on to consumers.  Fellow Republican Senator Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City remains optimistic an agreement can be reached before the regular session ends on May 17th.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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