An electric rate increase case decided by the Public Service Commission might not be decided at all. It might take a court decision to settle it.
The PSC granted AmerenUE a $43 million electric rate increase. Attorney General Jay Nixon has filed an appeal in Cole County Circuit Court. Nixon argues that Ameren not only doesn’t deserve an increase, but should have its rates cut. The Public Counsel has also asked the courts to lower Ameren’s rates.
Ameren has filed its own appeal. The utility earlier this month filed an appeal of the PSC decision in Cole County, asking the court to give it a greater increase that granted by the PSC. Ameren spokesman, Susan Gallagher, says the $43 million increase is equal to a 10.2% return on equity. She says that is below the increases granted in similar cases just last year.
Gallagher rejects the Attorney General’s contention that it doesn’t deserve an increase. She says she’s not completely familiar with the audit conducted by the AG office, but says one area of dispute is over depreciation. Gallagher insists Ameren uses normal accounting methods. She points out the utility hasn’t receive an electric rate increase since 1987 and has cut rates seven times in the intervening 20 years.
Ameren has been under fire the past couple of years for the Taum Sauk reservoir collapse and two massive power outages. The utility has seemingly become a political football kicked by both Governor Blunt and Attorney General Nixon who likely will square off against each other in the gubernatorial race next year. Gallagher, though, will not speculate on motivation, telling the Missourinet, "I can’t speculate on that, I’m sorry."
Ameren is the state’s largest electric utility. It is based in St. Louis.