JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KMOX)-As hearings on Ameren Missouri’s latest rate increase request continue, Missouri regulators are looking for ways to make sure the state’s poor can afford to pay for their electricity and other utilities.
Public Service Commission Commissioner Robert Kenney says that as he attends hearings around the state, he hears a common story, “What we’ve heard is the difficulties that low-income customers are having with rising utility rates.”
So Kenney says the PSC has ordered an inquiry to find new ways to help low-income customers keep their lights on, their natural gas flowing and their water running, “One of the questions were asking is, ‘how do you do this in such a way that’s helpful to low-income people but not hurtful to all the other customer classes?’”
Kenney says options include establishing a special rate class for low-income customers or finding ways to help those customers before they get their bills, “Are there ways to help them on the front end so they don’t get behind, they don’t get in arrearages and if we can maybe figure out how to help them on the front end that helps the utilities by helping them reduce their bad debt expense as well.”
He says they’ll be taking suggestions from utilities and consumer groups and looking at what other states are doing.