Customers sound off on Ameren's rate increase request - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Customers sound off on Ameren's rate increase request

DEXTER, Mo (KFVS) -- The folks at Ameren UE are pushing for an 18 percent rate increase for customers in Missouri and as you might imagine people are not too happy about the company's request.

Ameren officials along with folks from the Missouri Public Service Commission held a meeting Tuesday night in Dexter so people could sound off on the proposed rate increase.  It was just one of 13 meetings set to take place around the state.

The 18 percent increase turns into an average of about $14 more a month per customer.   People at the meeting in Dexter say that's $14 too much and they want to know why Ameren needs the money.

"What they're doing to us is they're lying, they know they cheated" said Clarence Williams.  
"They're fetching at straws" said Paula Kay Roberts.
"These people want a mink coat, let's get real people" said Pat Barnes.

Those were just some of the comments from the hundreds of people who crowded the Armory in Dexter to share their thoughts.

Ameren officials say asking for the increase has not been easy .

"The way it works in Missouri, we've already spent the money, residents say they want reliability, this is what we have to do," said Ameren's Stephen M Kidwell, Vice President of Ameren's Regulatory & Legislative Affairs department.
 
Most of the people in attendance say they don't understand why the company needs more of their money.

"It's the 18% it's like they're greedy!" said Barnes.  
"They just want money!  There's no way on god's green earth you're gonna get that out of these people," said Williamson.
 
To get the increase Ameren had to file a rate case with the Public Service Commission, that happened last July.

"The hearing is part of the process then the commission and the company will get together in Jefferson City and weigh the options," said Greg Ochoa with the Public Service Commission.
 
The next step includes other public hearings like this one in Dexter and then commissioners weigh the options.

"From the large turn out this is an issue of importance" said Ochoa.
 
Ameren is hoping an 18% increase will bring in $402 million annually.  According to Ameren that amounts to less than 50 cents a day or $14 dollars a month.
   
Ameren says half the money will go towards making systems more reliable.  The rest goes to pay the higher cost of fuel used to generate electricity.

"We're looking for ways to cut cost too it shouldn't all be on the backs of customers," Kidwell said.
 
While recent ice storms weren't sited as a reason for the proposed increase, the company says major weather events like the ice storm last February do cost the company a lot of money.

"Ice storms cost us $80 million here in the Bootheel that's a big chunk of what we're asking for," Kidwell said.

That's not flying with customers though.
     
"It was a hard time for all of us nobody helped us recoup any of the money," said Roberts.  
 
People at Tuesday's meeting anxiously await a decision from the commission, saying every dollar counts
 
"I'm all for everybody getting a raise but I got a bunch of friends who are old they can't make it right now," Barnes said.

Hayti residents were also able to be a part of the meeting through video conferencing.

It will be up to the Missouri Public Service Commission to decide whether or not any rate increase goes through.  After the hearings are finished, commissioners will make a decision.
     
The Public Service Commission now has until the end of June to collect information and say yes or no to the increase.

Commissioners want to hear from you.  If you would like to share your thoughts you can call the Utility Consumer Complaints number at
1-800-392-4211.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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