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Ameren Illinois files for price hike to meet future clean energy standards

Electric power lines are displayed at sunset in El Segundo, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2022. The FBI charged two men over attacks on Washington state's power grid that left thousands without power.
Patrick T. Fallon
AFP via Getty Images
Electric power lines are shown at sunset in El Segundo, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2022.

Ameren has filed for a price increase with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to begin a four-year preparation process to transition to clean energy.

Ameren is asking for a $160.4 million gas rate hike and a four-year $435.6 million electric rate increase. The Jan. 20 filing will start an 11-month rate case in which the ICC will analyze the dollar requests and decide on whether to approve or deny the increase in prices.

Citizens are welcome to weigh in on the requests; advocates from groups like the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the Illinois State Attorney's Office represent citizen needs and opinions.

Ameren Communications Director Tucker Kennedy said the process began after the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act was passed in 2021. The act states that Illinois will have carbon-free power by 2045.

“We're looking into the future, no impact in the short term. It's really looking ahead to what is needed to maintain and accelerate the preparation of the grid,” Kennedy said.

He also said Ameren is taking steps to ensure that Illinois residents have reliable power on days when renewable energy sources are not available.

“It's to ensure that our customers and businesses are able to realize the benefits of this transition that we're making to de-carbonize the economy. The state is on this path to clean energy, it's a path that Ameren Illinois supports,” Kennedy said,

“But in order to make sure that our customers get the benefits as we start to transition to cleaner energy sources, there are core investments that we need to make in our grid to make sure that we're able to accept clean energy and to be able to serve that to our customers.”

While Ameren is focused on enriching the power grid for a future transition, representatives of the Citizens Utility Board are advocating for citizens during this period of change.

CUB director of communications Jim Chilsen said the price hike filings could not have come at a worse time.

“When customers are dealing with sky-high fossil fuel prices, they've been dealing with multiple rate hikes in recent years, and these new rate hikes can make a bad situation worse,” he said.

Chilsen also said CUB is tasked with preventing excessive profit rates for companies like Ameren and eliminating any extra charges that companies cannot justify.

“We're already paying really high bills. So we're going to do everything possible to challenge that profit rate for (Ameren) shareholders and bring that rate hike down” Chilsen said.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.