A western Missouri state senator who grew up in St. Louis is going after the scalp of Ameren-UE–and any other regulated power company that cannot keep the lights on. Senator Chris Koster of Harrisonville spent the first 20 years of his life in St.Louis and has family members still there who have been without electricity because of storms. He has introduced a bill setting reliability standards for regulated utilities. Companies that don’t live up to the standards have to put a notice on their websites for a year that their service is substandard. They also have to put those words on every monthly bill. He says the words would be a “Scarlet Letter” intended to embarrass a utility company so much that it would “move heaven and earth” to avoid being rated as substandard. He says the designation also would have negative effects on Wall Street. He says a company looking for investors cannot afford to be branded as “substandard.” Koster’s bill also gives the Public Service Commission power to order more extensive tree and brush control near power lines. Although Ameren’s outages have triggered the bill, Koster says it will apply to all state-regulated power companies. It will not apply to municipals or rural electric co-ops.
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