St. Louis (KSDK) - Ameren Missouri wants to raise its rates by 14 percent, but that can't happen until customers have a chance to voice what they think about a bigger bill.
The first of a series of 12 happened Thursday afternoon at Harris Stowe State University.
An Ameren representative told the crowd the 14 percent hike would mean about $14 more per month for the average customer.
Ameren spokesman Warren Wood said the company's rates are the lowest of all investor-owned utilities in the state. So, he says a rise in fuel cost and infrastructure improvements justify their request.
"That amounts to anout $700 million in investments we've made since our last rate request," said Wood. "We've also proposed an energy efficiency program. It's the largest in state history. That costs about $80 million a year. And then we've seen an increase in the cost of coal and diesel fuel for the trains that bring the coal to our power plants. And that's about $103 million."
Ameren Missouri customers spoke out against the proposed increase.
"We have less money, the government has less money, but Ameren gets more?" asked Susan Turk. "Can't they learn to budget and tighten their belt and live with the same type of constraints that we do?"
"My father told me when I was young in order to have money you can either make more or spend less," said Nelson Weber. "And I would suggest that Ameren look into spending less."
Staffers with the Missouri Public Service Commission, the agency that oversees Ameren's rates, is suggesting an increase of only $210 million and profits of nine percent. A final decision could be made by the end of the year.
For a list of public rate case hearings, visit Ameren's website.