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Ameren Illinois rate hike proposal comes under fire

(via Flickr/[F]oxymoron)

 Opponents of Ameren Illinois’ $90 million rate increase request are gearing up for a hard fight.

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the AARP held a series of press conferences today to explain why they want state regulators to reject the proposal. Ameren Illinois is asking for an exorbitant “return on equity,” which is the allowed profit rate for shareholders, according to CUB senior policy analyst Bryan McDaniel.

"Their parent company, Ameren Generation, made gobs of money last year, as did their distribution utility, Ameren Illinois, and people are struggling right now," McDaniel said. "And to just add more costs onto people so that millionaires can live a little better really isn’t the way to be doing things."

But Ameren says the rate hike is necessary to pay for:

  • increased operating costs
  • higher state income taxes
  • the increased cost of borrowing money

"When you have a system that is as big as this one is, the kind of maintenance issues that we would be looking at," Ameren Illinois spokesman Leigh Morris said. "And maintenance is an everyday process. Safe, reliable electric and natural gas service is absolutely essential to the way we live our lives."
Illinois regulators will hold a public hearing on the rate request on Tuesday in Springfield. Illinois Commerce Commissioners are not expected to rule on the proposal until January.