UPDATE: Missouri Public Service Commission Approve Ameren Rate Hike

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JEFFERSON CITY -The Missouri Public Service Commission approved Ameren Missouri's request to raise utility rates for its customers.

The was vote was three to one in favor of Ameren's increase. Chairman Kevin Gunn, Commissioners Terry Jarrett and Stephen Stoll voted yes. Commissioner Robert Kenney dissented.

This is the fifth rate increase request over six years. Chairman Gunn says that this rate increase was neccessary so that the commission can prevent rate increases in the near future.

The commission says utility rates in Missouri are already below the national average. Ameren said it wants to raise its rates to cover the $260.2 million in needed upgrades for energy efficiency programs.

Over $100 million of that increase is related to Ameren Missouri's increased total fuel costs. Another $89 million of that increase is for the cost of increasing Ameren Missouri's energy efficiency efforts under Missouri's Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA).

Ameren Missouri originally wanted to increase its retail rates by approximately $376 million per year, an increase of approximately 14.6 percent.

That increase was put hold until January 2013.

In July and August 2012, the Commission conducted twelve local public hearings at various sites around Ameren Missouri's service area. At those hearings, the Commission heard comments from customers and the public regarding the rate increase.

Critics say the rate hike would hurt customers already struggling to pay bills, but Ameren says the increase is necessary to meet environmental standards and make needed improvements to infrastructure.

While Ameren Missouri dropped its original rate increase from $376 million to $260, customers should still expect an increase starting next year.