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Ameren Missouri’s proposed rate hike tied to wind energy investments

More than a million Ameren Missouri customers in the state are facing a rate hike spurred in part by renewable energy investments by the company.

“This is after several rate reductions that have happened since 2017,” Warren Wood, Ameren Missouri’s Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs said. “The net effect over the last five years is about 5.4% rate change or one percent per year since then.”

Wood said the utility has 1.2 million customers in Missouri, for which, the proposed rate adjustments would, if approved, raise bills for an average residential electric customer by about $12 per month. It’s $4 more a month for natural gas customers in Missouri, of which, Ameren has more than 134,000.

Wood said “less than a $1” of the $12 of the monthly change is expected to be tied to investments made with wind energy that the utility recently completed with it’s two wind farms.

“This represents investments to improve electric and gas systems reliability and resilience as well as a transition to cleaner energy resources,” Wood said.

Acquired by Ameren Missouri in December 2020, the High Prairie Renewable Energy Center in Adair and Schuyler county, MO produces 400 megawatts – the equivalent of 120,000 homes, according to the utility.

That investment plus the utility’s nearly completed construction at the Atchison Renewable Energy Center in Atchison County, MO which produces 300 megawatt capacity rounds out their wind generating capacity.

The commission will decide if the rate change is appropriate through the 11-month process.

“This is where the public service commission does an audit of of all of our costs and investments and look at the benefits to the customers associated with them,” Wood said.

The company’s “Smart Energy Plan,” also installed smart meters, upgraded substations and power lines.

Wood said the investments are having an impact. An example is how Ameren Missouri fared during the polar vortex issues that faced Texas utilities in February.

“Ameren Missouri we did not experience a significant outage as a result of that situation Our Smart Energy plans are helping with that,” Wood said.