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In July, 2009, Ameren UE went to the Missouri Public Service Commission to request an additional 18% rate increase, or 402 million dollars. In March, it was granted a rate increase amounting to $163 million dollars. The utility states that these additional funds are needed for higher fuel costs, financing, and reliability improvements. Further, Ameren UE has requested an exception for an additional 37 million dollars for investments it has recently implemented to improve customer services.
Why is Ameren UE requesting these extraordinary rate increases in a recession? After studying analyses and an abstract of the Waxman-Markey Bill, a federal bill designed to reduce greenhouse gasses, I conclude that Ameren UE is positioning itself to have sufficient future revenues to cover the costs of its heavy reliance on coal as its major fuel source. Coal is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and 85% of Ameren UE’s power is supplied by coal.
Although the Missouri Public Service Commission must authorize sufficient rate increases for Ameren UE to maintain our electrical power, it must pressure the utility to invest heavily in energy sources that do not produce greenhouse gases. Examples include nuclear, wind, sun, and water. If not, coal may become a very expensive fuel and we will pay a much higher price for our electric power.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Lowe "Sandy" MacLean is vice chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri, St. Louis, and is active in local political and community organizations, including the Grand Order of Pachyderms (GOP), a service organization for the Republican Party.