Ameren seeks to upgrade grid, fixed-income residents fear rate hike

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 4:38 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Ameren Illinois customers say they’re concerned for another big hit to the wallet as a measure to upgrade the company’s Illinois grid is awaiting a signature from Governor Pat Quinn.

The measure is designed to  ensure reliability and reduce outages but residents - especially seniors and those on fixed incomes - say they fear they will end up paying the price.

With a limited income, 94-year old Frank Moore and his family are concerned the updates will come with a rate hike. Moore’s daughter Collene Seabough is his caregiver. She says for each dollar that goes to a rate hike, there’s one less to go to Moore’s well being.

“He’s 94. It’s just more money out on  utilities that takes away from doctors and medicine and insurance and payments like that for us,” she said.  

The actual rate increase number are a point of contention, however. On one side of the argument, llinois watchdog group The Citizens’ Utility Board estimates upgrades to Ameren Illinois’ infrastructue could add up to $500 over a ten year period; an increase of $50 a year.

The company disputes that figure, saying the increase would only be a little less than $4 a year, not $50.  Additionally, a company spokesperson says the upgrades will help assure more dependable billing figures in the future.

“I think the other way to look at this is about predictability,” said Ameren’s Tucker Kennedy. “Customers don’t want fluctuations in their bill. They want to know there won’t be wild swings year to year.”

However, residents are still wary; especially those with no way to generate more money.

“On fixed income, it’s a problem,” said 82-year-old Leroy Forness. “No matter what it is, or who it is, or what they want to do with it.”

The measure now heads to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s desk for approval.

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