Ameren requests electric rate increase for next year

News-DemocratApril 25, 2014 

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Ameren Illinois serves the metro-east and the rest of Southern Illinois.

Ameren Illinois has filed a request for a $206.4 million rate increase for electricity to pay for upgrades to the utility company's power grid.

Citing the Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act of 2011, also known as the "smart-grid bill," Ameren Illinois spokesman Brian Bretsch said the law uses a formula to determine Ameren's rates each year for up to the next decade to pay for $625 million in system upgrades. The proposed rate increase would cost the average residential customer an additional $6.37 to $9.55 per month beginning in 2015.

"It's important to remember this is simply the first step in an eight-month process to determine the allowed revenue that Ameren Illinois can recover under formula ratemaking," Bretsch said in a released statement.

However, Bretsch also said that most Ameren Illinois customers will pay less for electric service next year than they paid in 2011 as rates have been declining. Illinois Commerce Commission spokeswoman Beth Bosch said Ameren Illinois' electric rates were reduced last year.

A year ago, Ameren Illinois requested a reduction of approximately $30 million in annual revenue. By last December, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved a $45 million rate reduction.

"It's a matter of them justifying the amount of the rate increase," Bosch said.

The Citizens Utility Board did not support the smart-grid legislation because the Illinois consumer advocacy group believes the law does not provide protection for consumers. On Friday, spokesman Jim Chilsen said the latest Ameren request seems high.

"We are struck that it is going to be a big increase for Ameren customers," Chilsen said. "We promise to go over every penny to challenge every penny the company can't justify."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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