From WILL - News Headlines -

Ameren Granted Natural Gas Rate Hike

A citizen's watchdog group says it will appeal Ameren's latest rate hike.

On Tuesday, The Illinois Commerce Commission granted the utility a $30-million request - roughly 60-percent of what it originally wanted for natural gas delivery rates. The request before the ICC was filed 11 months ago.

Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris says Ameren doesn't make any money on the natural gas itself. He says the utility is still determing what impact the hike will have on bills. Delivery rates impact a third of a customer's natural gas bill.

Morris says it's a matter of calculating what are called tariffs through Ameren's old CILCO, CIPS, and Ameren IP territories.

"They're a matter of public record, and will be available both on our website (www.AmerenIllinois.com), and they're in a filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission," Morris said.

Citizens Utility Board spokesman Jim Chilsen questions the company's need for the hike when its parent company reported 3rd quarter earnings of more than $380-million. He says the ruling threatens to wipe out potential savings due to a mild winter.

"It's the absolute worst time for a rate hike, with the economy the way it is," said Chilsen. "We are pleased that it appears the company didn't get as much as it wanted. But we're disappointed with today's (Tuesday's) ruling because it gave the company more than it needed or deserved."

In the next few weeks, Chilsen says CUB will ask the ICC to re-hear the case. If the argument is rejected, the Commerce Commission can appeal that decision as well.

Morris says he expects the increase will show up on bills by February.