Litigation Update: MO American Water and Ameren Rate Hike Requests

Missouri residents are closely watching as two major utility companies, Missouri American Water and Ameren, attempt to raise their rates by significant amounts. However, the Consumers Credit Council, represented by Utility Consumer Counsel John Coffman, has stepped in to protect the rights of utility consumers in the state.

According to an April 11, 2023, Consumer Council’s e-newsletter, the Consumers Council, along with the Office of Public Counsel, is advocating for careful consideration of Missouri American Water Company’s request for a 25.7% rate increase, which was filed in July 2022. They are also pushing for the protection and expansion of customer affordability programs. After working diligently, the parties reached a partial settlement in March 2023.

The settlement includes a significant reduction in the rate increase originally requested by Missouri American Water Company, a one-dollar increase in the base monthly customer charge, and the elimination of late fees. Additionally, Missouri American Water Company has agreed to contribute $250,000 annually to the Critical Medical Needs program, with the cost split evenly between ratepayers and shareholders. The company will also allocate $100,000 to a rehousing program for customers transitioning to housing, which can be used for bill credit and arrearage. However, the Public Service Commission is currently considering whether to approve this settlement.

In a separate case, Ameren Missouri requested an 11.64% rate increase in June 2022, including an increase in the monthly fixed residential customer charge from $8.00 to $13.00. Consumers Council, represented by Utility Consumer Counsel John Coffman, has intervened in the case, and Jackie Hutchinson, Director of Advocacy, has submitted expert witness testimony. Settlement negotiations are currently underway, and the case is set for trial on April 12, 2023.

Representatives from the Consumers Council say they are committed to continuing to work towards fair and affordable utility rates for all Missouri residents. Their efforts to protect the rights of utility consumers in the state thus far have been commendable, and they have shown that it is possible to achieve positive outcomes even in the face of powerful corporations. The Council’s work is a reminder that consumers have a voice and that they should not be afraid to speak up when their rights are at stake.

UPDATED: In an earlier e-mail from the Missouri Consumer Council stated that the litigation was complete. The Council later sent out a correction and those changes are reflected in the above story. Here’s a link to the first release, and here’s a link to the correction.

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