As a nonprofit, nonpartisan social mission organization, AARP is in your corner, fighting on issues that matter to you and your family– like fighting to save you money on your utility bills.
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If you live in eastern Missouri and receive electric service from Ameren Missouri, here are some facts by the numbers. There has been 36% in rate hikes over the last four years. Thanks in part to AARP representing consumers in the rate hearing process, those increases could have been dramatically higher – a fact that is hard to comprehend given that many families are struggling to make ends meet, are on fixed incomes, or both.
There is a bill in the Missouri legislature, HB 1316, which I invite you all to get to know and understand. This legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, would allow Ameren to be reimbursed nearly $45 million to purchase early site permits to explore the possibility of a new nuclear power plant in Callaway County. AARP is not opposed to the development of nuclear power in Missouri – we are opposed to this kind of funding mechanism which shifts the cost and risk to consumers. It’s the responsibility of Ameren investors, not consumers, to fund the potential expansion.
This practice is called Construction Work in Progress (CWIP). It is used to allow rate increases to utility customers to underwrite construction costs along the way. Thankfully, CWIP was prohibited with a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1976 after the controversial construction of the Callaway Nuclear Plant near Fulton with all its cost overruns. It is still the law of the land.
So why is Ameren interested in this legislation? The fact is Ameren does not need a change in state law to apply for an early sight permit. The only reason they need a change in state law is to get you and me to pay for it.
The last thing Missouri families need is for Ameren to be allowed to spread the $45 million permit cost, an investment their shareholders should make, across their residential customer base. If this is allowed to happen it will pave the way for similar financing schemes. It’s wrong, and as an Ameren customer you know it is wrong. So we can hold onto our wallets and wait to see what happens, or we can engage our legislators and our communities. I vote for the latter. I encourage you to write or speak with your legislator, write a letter to the editor, and voice your concerns directly to Ameren. If it is too risky for investors to finance it is certainly too risky for Ameren customers to finance through higher electric bills. Oh, and tell a neighbor!
With our collective voices we have the power to make it better. Better for ratepayers, and better for Missouri families.
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