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Hearings start today on Ameren electric rate hike

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Ameren will be on the hot seat today (Monday) as it goes before the Missouri Public Service commission. The state's utility regulator is starting as many as three weeks of hearings to study Ameren's request for a rate increase.

Public Service Commission spokesman Kevin Kelly says the state hasn't had to approve an electric rate increase for Ameren since the mid-80's, which means there will be a lot of issues to consider.

And he says Ameren's response to two big power outages last year are only part of the formula: "The commission would take a look at the entire record and, looking at all the issues in the case, and determine what type of increase if any should be granted."

Kelly says the PSC must rule by the end of May on whether to grant the $360 million rate hike. Most customers would see monthly increases of about $6 on their bills.

Kelly says another factor is that the PSC staff last year recommended a rate decrease after it found Ameren was already over-earning.

"So, that is also an issue that's out there with regards to this case - you have the electric crate increase request that's been filed by Ameren UE as well as the complaint case that's been filed by the Public Service Commission staff.

"And we have upwards of 16, 18 parties involved in this case."

Ameren says it needs the rate hike to keep its infrastructure up to date.

The PSC is also considering new rules for Ameren regarding being better prepared for power outages, but Kelly says that will probably be a separate ruling done later.


Ameren also faces a public hearing today related to its plans to rebuild the Taum Sauk reservoir.

Federal regulators will hold two public hearings today: One this morning in Jefferson City and a second tonight in Lesterville. Members of the public can give their opinions on the plan.

The mountaintop reservoir collapsed in late 2005. The resulting flood of more than a billion gallons devastated the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park and injured a family of five.

Ameren says it wants to rebuild the reservoir with new safety features that would prevent another collapse.

Tonight's hearing at Lesterville will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the city's public school.