JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, has written a letter to Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Robert Kenney, and copied the Missouri press corps, expressing opposition to the PSC’s discussions on concluding the Ameren rate design case.
Noranda Aluminum is currently the largest consumer of electricity for Ameren in the state, and Monticello says she’s writing on behalf of residential consumers in her district. “I’m writing on behalf of my constituents to express my sincere concern about the nearly $25 million annual rate shift for Noranda Aluminum.”
Monticello’s letter was written in the midst of PSC assessing a compromise regarding the rate case. The letter comes on the heels of Governor Nixon endorsing a stipulation proposed by the Office of Public Counsel and signed off on by the state’s leading consumer groups granting Noranda a rate of $34/MWh for at 10-year period which was met with a warm reception by the commission.
The one issue being discussed before the commission is the number of years that the rate will be issued for. In a quirk of PSC policies, whatever the term is set at the rate could be changed at any time by the PSC, but the term issued will be key to Noranda’s refinancing.
“However, the new power rate and long-term stability provided by the 7-year proposed term will have a meaningful positive impact on the cost structure of Noranda, making it significantly more likely that Noranda will be able to obtain credit and maintain operations at the smelter,” said Tom Harris, Managing Director with Silicon Valley Finance.
A group of seven senators met last week and were considering submitting a letter to the PSC in support of Noranda, but ultimately decided to allow the PSC process to unfold. The PSC is expected to give the judge in the case direction on the compromise language at tomorrow’s agenda meeting.
Noranda has been engaged in a long fight with Ameren over a proposed reduction in their power rates, which they say are getting to high to continue to conduct business in the state. Ameren has maintained that a lower rate for Noranda will force rates up for residential owners.
Noel Torpey, Executive Director of Fair Energy Rate Action Fund, responded to the letter.
“This stipulation is supported by every major consumer group in the state, the Office of Public Counsel, and Governor Jay Nixon. I welcome Rep. Montecillo’s concern for residential rate payers as we battle future surcharges harmful to consumers.”
Senators Doug Libla and Wayne Wallingford also weighed in on the PSC’s pending decision in a joint statement:
“One thing Governor Nixon and Republicans can agree on is the importance of jobs in Missouri. We are appreciative of the Governor’s support for protecting jobs in southeast Missouri. The fact is ALL of Ameren’s customers will annually save over $20 million if Noranda is able to remain in business. This solution supported by the Governor, Office of Public Counsel, and consumer groups will benefit all ratepayers across the state.”
Rachael Herndon is the editor at The Missouri Times, and also produces This Week in Missouri Politics, publishes Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosts the #moleg podcast. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.
To contact Rachael, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.