Brief Comments About Long Bill
Senate Bill 207 is a major topic of conversation in Jefferson City this year. Simply put, it allows AmerenUE to add a surcharge to bills to collect funds now to pay for upcoming infrastructure investment. Under current law, AmerenUE has to wait until a project is complete before it can charge for it.
I support the changes in SB 207. I support it because I support infrastructure investment in our state and if the current customers of AmerenUE (which is all of us) do not pay for it then who will? I guess Ameren could make greater use of bonds and debt instead of price increases, but that comes with increased costs of its own (e.g., interest). Who will pay for those bonding costs? Us, of course.
I think electrical companies should operate under the same terms as water and gas companies, which this bill would allow them to do.
In case you think I am shilling for the electric companies, please note that I completely support deregulating Missouri’s electrical system and giving Missouri consumers more choice in their electrical providers. They have done this in Illinois, among other states. I think we should do it here as well.
But for now, we have our regulated monopoly system in place, and I support most ideas designed to encourage real infrastructure investment in that system. (“Real” = actually produces power without ridiculous government subsidies, i.e., not wind energy or ethanol mandates.) That infrastructure investment costs money, and I think charging current customers for the expansion of a system we (or at least most of us) will use is fair.