ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Ameren is pushing a pair of bills before the state legislature that would change the way rate hikes are approved — Ameren Missouri says it would be good for consumers, but a local consumer advocate says it would be bad.

St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who also serves as executive director of the Consumer Council of Missouri, is against the changes.

“The state of Missouri has seen our electric rates increase three times faster than the national average. We have increased over 40 percent in the last decade — our electricity costs, and we can’t stomach that for much longer,” she says.

Ameren claims the bill would be a relief for consumers by limiting annual rate hikes to 3 percent, also making rate hikes more predictable and even.

Spencer says that’s misleading because the plan would let Ameren pass along other costs to consumers without approval from the Public Service Commission — and those costs wouldn’t count toward the 3 percent.

Ameren released a statement rebutting Spencer’s claim, saying she’s “100 percent wrong:”

“All rate changes have to be approved by the Commission, per the following cited statutes:

“Under current Missouri statutes, there are two methods of setting base rates for electric utilities. The procedure where the electric utility files—in Section 393.140/393.150—and the procedure where a rate complaint is filed by a third party—in Section 386.390, 393.260 and 393.270. None of these statutes are changed by SB 564. The Commission has exactly the same rate-setting authority that it always had.

“In addition, nothing in our bill gives the Commission additional authority to change rates. Although the bill does allow the deferral of plant costs, property taxes and cyber/physical security costs for consideration in a future rate case, it does not change the statutory process by which rates are set in that future rate case.”

Copyright KMOX

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