Public Rips Ameren Rate Increase Request

By Jenny Li

July 15, 2010 Updated Feb 20, 2008 at 12:05 AM CDT

Ameren Utilities is asking for new rate increases on electricity customers in Central Illinois.

If you're a CILCO customer, your electric bill on average would increase $2.83 a month. To help offset that cost, Ameren is asking to –decrease– its gas delivery charge by 1.33...so CILCO customers who use a combination of gas and electricity will only see an overall increase of a $1.50 on the bill.

Bloomington–Normal customers with Ameren I–P would see electric rates increase even more under the proposed increase...by 7–75 a month Customers voiced their thoughts on the proposed increase at a public hearing tonight.

The people who attended the public hearing had much to say about the increase Ameren Illinois Utilities is asking for, and the Illinois Commerce Commission listened...

Ila Minson said, "We're hostages for those who want to charge us to be customers."

Tom Moore said, "I'm here asking the ICC to bring back the old Cilco."

AARP Lobbyist Mary Patton said, "AARP members are of the ages 50 and up and half of our members are still working but all their additional income is going to these increases we don't feel are appropriate."

Members of the I–C–C weren't the only ones listening to their concerns.
Ameren Representatives were present as well. Craig Nelson, a Vice President at Ameren, was very frank about the reason for the rate increase.

Craig Nelson said, "Clearly we want to recover our costs and earn a fair return similar to what other utilities are earning. But we do want to provide reliable service, better customer service, fewer outages, shorter outages and we want to spend about a billion dollars on our infrastructure over the next three years. In order to do that we have to recover our costs and earn a fair return."
Jenny Li: So the cost is being passed down to the customer.
Nelson: "Yes, that's how regulated monopolies work, and that's what the law calls for."

This is fourth in a series of six public meeting on the issue.
The I–C–C make a decision on the increase this summer.

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