Ameren Illinois has filed a $50 million natural gas rate hike request with the Illinois Commerce Commission. (Photo by Eric Stock/WJBC)
By Eric Stock
CHICAGO - A consumer watchdog plans to keep a close eye on Ameren Illinois' paperwork as the utility files for a $50 million rate increase for natural gas delivery.
Ameren is asking the Illinois Commerce Commission for the rate hike so it can improve its delivery infrastructure.
Jim Chilsen, spokesman with the Chicago-based Citizens Utility Board, said Ameren should prove it's not boosting profits.
"We take 11 months to go over every number that the company puts forward and we make the company justify every penny," Chilsen said.
Ameren's parent company made $323 million in third-quarter profits in 2012.
The average monthly rate increase would be between $2.52 (former Ameren CIPS customers) and $4 dollars (former Ameren CILCO). Former Ameren IP customers would see a $2.87 rate hike per month.
Chilsen predicts the ICC will give Ameren some kind of increase - but not all of it.
"Sometimes they've given too much to the company, but never what the company actually wanted, which I think is very telling about these rate cases. We feel that the company comes in with a bloated request," Chilsen said.
Ameren’s delivery service rates were last increased in Jan. 20, 2012.
Ameren delivers gas to 813,000 customers in central and southern Illinois.
Vice President Craig Nelson said in a statement the utility would try to help consumers handle any increase by offering advice on energy efficiency.
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