Resident speaks at commerce hearing

DeWayne Bartels

“Bring back the old CILCO,” Tom Moore of Washington said. “They showed a lot of respect to the community.”

“They have compromised valuable trust with the customer,” Moore said, adding that more and more services that used to be handled locally are being farmed out.

Moore, along with others, did not greet Ameren CILCO’s request with open arms at a hearing before the Illinois Commerce Commission last week in Peoria.

Stan Ogden, head of public relations for Ameren Illinois Utilities, told the audience Ameren has a commitment to helping customer’s save on their utilities, which is why the company was seeking the rate hike.

Ameren Illinois Utilities, which includes AmerenCILCO, is asking the ICC to approve new electric and natural gas delivery rates they say would allow the companies to recover present and ongoing costs and continue making infrastructure investments.

Scott A. Cisel, president and chief executive officer of Ameren Illinois Utilities, said, in a press release, the company’s current level of electric and gas delivery service rates are insufficient to recover the existing costs of providing service to customers and earning a reasonable return.

Prior to the meeting’s start AmerenCILCO spokesman Neal Johnson said the company is seeking very modest increases in the AmerenCILCO delivery area.

If the rate increase is approved, AmerenCILCO customers would see an annual electric rate increase of $34 -$36 annually. Natural gas rates would fall by $16 annually, Johnson said.

Ameren Illinois Utilities, according to materials passed out, plans to spend $900 million to further improve system reliability and make other capital investments through 2010.

“We’re asking the ICC to let us recover our costs and make a fair return,” said Craig Nelson, vice- president of operations for AmerenCILCO.

About 50 people attended the hearing Feb. 19 at Woodruff High Schoo. in Peoria. None spoke in support of Ameren’s request.

Mary Patten, speaking on behalf of AARP, said she and AARP do not support the request. She expressed concern about three riders Ameren included in the rate hike request that she said would give the company the “fast track” to hike certain rates in the future.