Ameren's Labadie Power Plant

Many Franklin County electric customers could soon be seeing a rate increase.

Ameren Missouri has requested a 12 percent electricity rate increase from the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC). According to a notice from the company, that would equal an extra $11.78 on an average size home.

“If you have a smaller home, you won’t pay that much,” said Jenny Barth, Ameren communications executive. “If you have a home business or a pool heater or things like that, it could change that.”

If approved, the rate increase is expected to take effect by Feb. 28, 2022, according to Ameren. It would impact all 44,749 Ameren electric customer meters in Franklin County.

“That would fund upgrades to the electric and natural gas systems for reliability, for resiliency for all those customers, as well as to support a transition to cleaner energy,” Barth said. 

The transition includes paying for the construction of the High Prairie and Atchison wind energy centers, which recently opened in northern Missouri. Tom Byrne, Ameren senior director of regulatory affairs, said state law prevents the company from including new capital investments in its rates until the new facilities are online. “So you don’t get to recover the cost until they’re completely built and in service,” he said.

The wind farms will add 700 megawatts of renewable energy generation, Byrne said.

“That’s a pretty significant increase, and that’s impacting this rate case as well,” he said.

The rates also are affected by Ameren’s accelerated closures of its Rush Island and Sioux coal-generating plants, according to the company. The Sioux plant is now set to close in 2028, and Rush Island is now scheduled to close in 2039.

The Labadie Energy Center, Ameren’s largest coal plant, is scheduled to close in 2042.

Ameren also is making investments in improving substations, as well as power lines and switches that improve reliability, Byrne said. “That’s a big factor that’s driving this rate,” he said.

Ameren’s rates would remain below the national and Midwest averages, Byrne said.

Ameren also has proposed a natural gas rate increase of around $4 a month for the average size home. Barth said she does not know of Ameren natural gas customers in Franklin County.

The rate increase has to go through a process, and rate increases are not always approved for the entire requested amount, Barth said. “It really varies,” she said.

Ameren would increase its electric base rate annual revenue by $299 million and its natural gas base rate annual revenue by $9.4 million, according to PSC. The company serves 1.28 million electric customers and 135,000 natural gas customers in Missouri.

According to the PSC, the Empire District Electric Company, which does business as Liberty Utilities, is the only other company to have a rate increase request currently before the commission. Joplin-based Liberty, which has around 155,400 electric customers, filed a May 31 request to increase its annual electric revenue by $79.9 million.

Ameren has two virtual public hearings planned for residents of Franklin County and elsewhere. The hearings are Oct. 7 and 8, both starting at 6 p.m.

To take part in the hearing, call 855-718-6621 and enter access code 177 571 9008 and password 0240 for the Oct. 7 hearing. Enter access code 177 698 0394 and password 0240 for the Oct. 8 hearing.

Go to webex.com to watch the meetings on video.

Formal evidentiary hearings are planned in November and December, according to PSC. Each party will have an attorney, and “expert witnesses” will testify and answer questions about issues in the case.

After the hearings, the parties will file briefs summarizing their positions. Then the PSC will review the case and make its decision.