Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Residents who don’t want Ameren Missouri to receive another rate hike can tell the Public Service Commission about it today at two local public hearings.

Since 2006, Ameren Missouri has asked for and received increases on the cost of electric totaling 43 percent.

That seems like an “excessive amount of profit,” says Attorney John Coffman with the Consumers Council of Missouri, particularly for a business with no competition and that has most business expenses already mitigated through surcharges.

Ameren Missouri is a for-profit company, he says, and it has an obligation to its shareholder to continue asking for more.

Electric bills would go up another 10 percent if Ameren Missouri gets its way.

Coffman says consumers are getting tapped out.

“These constant increases that have been occurring since the recession, and I think there’s a sense that sometimes that Ameren Missouri over-reaches and asks for too much,” he says.

The increases are hard to swallow for customers – especially seniors – who aren’t seeing increases in wages, benefits or investments, Coffman explains.

First public hearing

In south St. Louis County at the first of two public hearings on the rate hike request, many in the crowd like Louise Charboneau are saying “no way.”

“I believe the increase they’re proposing is too much, considering the history of recent rate increases,” she says. “I’m on Social Security. They gave me a 1.7 percent increase, and if Ameren feels the need, they can have 1.7, too.”

Many like Art Kuhn are fed up.

“It’s not fair,” he says. “The millions that them CEOs are making, and we’re supposed to help pay for the coal, and transporting the coal and everything to supply the power plants – I mean, why don’t they absorb some of that cost?”

Ameren Missouri argues it needs more money to improve the electric grid. It also claims to be investing in renewable energy, including wind and solar.

The second hearing is set for 6 p.m. at the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College.

This story was updated at 3:57 p.m.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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