Ameren customers protest proposed rate hike at state hearing
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis – Missouri utility regulators began a series of public hearings Tuesday concerning AmerenUE's request for an electric rate hike.
The company wants to raise rates nearly 18 percent. State officials said the average residential customer would pay another six dollars per month.
Ameren spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said the money is needed to offset the rising price of coal, as well as billions in infrastructure improvements.
"Somewhere, we've got to cover those costs," Gallagher said. "We can't continue to cut into our returns, or we won't be able to attract capital and we won't be able to build infrastructure."
But power customer David Schilling told the state Public Service Commission ratepayers should not have to cover those costs, especially given the recent power outages.
"They want to pass this catch-up onto the consumers," Schilling said. "They have other places to go. They haven't suffered from within financially. Were they not a functional monopoly, we'd be going somewhere else for our electricity."
The PSC could not only choose to deny Ameren's rate hike request, they could even force the utility to lower rates.
That's because commission staff filed a complaint last week claiming that Ameren is earning too much on shareholder investment.