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Timing is Everything: Ameren Rate Hike Lamented

September 25, 2008

Springfield, IL – More price increases are on the way for utility customers in Illinois. State regulators have granted Ameren, the energy firm which serves that state and neighboring Missouri, its request for a $162 million rate hike for electricity and natural gas. It comes at a time customers are facing inflation for other basics.

Nancy Nelson, advocacy manager for AARP Illinois, says she's disappointed and thinks the Illinois Commerce Commission ignored consumer testimony that high gas, food and health care costs are already too much.

"I don't think they considered how this would really hurt the seniors, working families and small businesses. This is the worst time that they could be doing this."

An outside review of the request justified a rate increase of only $58 million, says Nelson, and the much higher rate hike will be appealed and taken to court, if necessary.

"We are going to be working with the Attorney General's office and the Citizens' Utility Board to explore the options of what we can do to protect the consumers."

Ameren says the rate hike is needed to pay off debt and maintain its infrastructure. Nelson points out that the company is in good financial shape without a rate hike, noting that the company's CEO earns $2 million a year.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - IL