Ameren Mo. proposes nearly 15% electric rate hike

ST. LOUIS (KFVS) - Ameren Missouri has filed an electric rate increase request of nearly 15 percent to the Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC).

Ameren says their rate increase request is around $376 million, which is a 14.6 percent increase in customer rates.

The goal is to recover costs for reliability improvements, cleaner air and energy efficiency programs, according to Ameren.

If approved, Ameren says the average residential electric bill would increase about 46 cents a day (based on approximately 1,100 kilowatt-hours of usage per month).

Key components of Ameren's request are:

-Investments made primarily to improve the reliability of Ameren Missouri's aging infrastructure and to comply with environmental and renewable energy regulations comprise approximately $85 million (about 23%) of the increase request.

-Higher net fuel costs for power plants account for approximately $103 million (about 27%) of the request.

-Higher costs for the company's recently proposed energy efficiency programs comprise approximately $81 million (about 22%) of the request. These programs are expected to provide approximately $500 million in total customer benefits over the next 20 years.

-Additional cost increases, including those to meet renewable energy requirements, material costs and employee benefits.

Ameren says they have made large investments in its energy infrastructure, with some increase included in its electric rates.

According to a press release, the company says "their ability to make timely infrastructure investments is critical to Missouri's energy future because of the need to meet stricter environmental and renewable energy regulations, as well as to make improvements to an aging infrastructure to meet customers' number one priority reliability."

Ameren says they must recover its costs and earn a fair return on investments to enable it to meet its customers' expectations for safe and reliable service, the company also recognizes this rate increase will create a hardship for some customers.

The company says they are taking actions to help customers manage their rising energy costs and usage now and in the future.

Ameren offers budget billing and supports energy assistance programs for customers who are not able to pay their bills, according to the company. Ameren says all of the costs associated with these programs are excluded from customers' rates, including the company's commitment of $2 million of additional energy assistance funding.

The company says they are also seeking to recover costs from several major storms that they say are not 'fully reflected' in their rates, including damage from a tornado that went through St. Louis in April 2011.

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