Senate mulls utility infrastructure replacement surcharge bill - My Cameron News: Missouri Legislative News

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Senate mulls utility infrastructure replacement surcharge bill

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:37 am

A handful of Republicans in the state Senate Wednesday night held up a GOP-sponsored measure that would allow power companies in the state to tack surcharges on to customers' bills to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

To increase customer rates, Ameren and other power companies currently need to seek permission from the state's utility regulator, the Public Service Commission, through a traditional rate case. That process can take up to a year or more.

But this bill would allow Ameren and other power companies to impose a surcharge to fund new infrastructure between the general rate cases in what's called Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS).

Opponents, like Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, argue the utility companies already take in enough profit and don't need to pass this cost off to customers.

“If they’re going to pay higher rates, then my little old lady constituent is going to pay higher rates, and I can’t have that,” Schaaf said.

Others, including Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, argue an ISRS is needed to invest in needed infrastructure and technology.

“If our position in this state is, you know, we’re not going to allow any new investment. Go to the Public Service Commission and figure it out... I believe, with all due respect, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting," Lager said.

A filibuster lasting more than three hours stalled the bill before it was laid aside.

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