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Ameren Missouri requests rate adjustment to bolster reliability

Ameren Missouri filed a proposal with the Public Service Commission (PSC) Wednesday, seeking a rate adjustment aimed at bolstering its electric and natural gas systems. 

The adjustment, which would take effect in early 2022, would reflect infrastructure updates and clean energy investments. Warren Wood, vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs for Ameren Missouri, said the increase would keep rates low while allowing the company to continue investing in infrastructure. 

“If you look back at the last time rates went up, it was 2017 — and if you look from then to now, our rates have only been going down,” Wood told The Missouri Times. “We’re working to keep rates down as low as possible as we walk through this. Over the past couple of years, our customers have seen two electric rate decreases and one gas rate decrease. Our rates remain well below the national average.”

The average electric customer would see a $12 increase while natural gas rates would increase by $4. Funds would go toward eliminating processing fees for customers paying with credit cards, investing in wind generation, retiring coal-generating facilities, expanding rate options, and moving the Community Solar program from the pilot stage to a permanent operation. 

Wood said the revenue would be put to good use: Ameren saw reliability investments pay off during February’s cold snap which left parts of the Midwest without power and increased the demand for energy use. 

“With the outages in some parts of the country in February, we think the smart investments we’ve been making for our system over the past couple of years really helped bring us through that challenging time without any significant outages,” he said. “During the high-speed wind storm that blew through last year, we brought 50,000 of our customers back online in a matter of hours when it could have taken days or weeks without this technology.”

Wood noted the adjustment was subject to a lengthy approval period and customers would not experience a rate change until the beginning of 2022. With customers still dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, he touted the plethora of customer assistance programs offered by Ameren. 

“We recognize the challenges the pandemic has put on many of our customers,” he said. “We know many families have been impacted, and we want to be there to help them. We’ve seen an increase in the amount of the availability of energy assistance dollars; there have never been more systems available for customers.”

Last month, the company announced plans to invest more than $8 billion in renewable energy and infrastructure over the next five years. Ameren plans to install more than 1 million smart meters and implement infrastructure upgrades, economic growth programs, and renewable generation systems through 2025. 

Ameren committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 last year as part of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), hoping to enhance its clean energy portfolio by expanding its hydro, solar, and nuclear energy facilities over the next two decades and phase out all coal-based facilities by 2042.