Electric Rates Go Up; Some Sign Petition For Answers

Electric Rates Go Up; Some Sign Petition For Answers
By: Ryan Tate
Farmington, MO - More than 600 people crowded into the Centene Center in Farmington to find an outlet for their electrical problems.
City leaders raised the rates in February, the second rate increase since last summer. Since August 2005, the electric rates in town have gone up 45%. The city estimates that adds an extra $35 a month to the average household's electric bill.
"There's quite a few people upset and we understand that," Mayor Charles Rorex said. "But it is a fact, to increase costs we had to increase rates."
According to city leaders, the cost to buy electricity has gone up more than 96% since 2002. Farmington is part of MO.P.E.P, or the Missouri Public Energy Pool. Along with 30 other towns, the Coop buys electricity from wholesalers.
Another reason city leaders point to for the higher rates is the new substation built by Ameren UE. Ameren built the substation to help stop recurring blackouts in Farmington. Ameren charges Farmington $25,000 a month for the substation.
"I don't see the rates going down for the next ten years," Mayor Rorex said. "But I don't see them going up either."
Some people in town want the books checked. Organizers of a petition say they have collected more than 1,200 signatures, asking State Auditor Claire McCaskell to look into the town's books.
"We think there is a mismanagement of funds," Louise Fuchs said. "And some people cannot pay the rising costs of electricity. As I got more and more involved, I saw people that have electric furnaces and they cannot pay and we need answers."