Letter to the Editor

Protect rates for basic needs

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

To the editor:If AmerenUE is granted a rate increase by the Missouri Public Service Commission, the electricity we use in our homes for basic needs like refrigerating and cooking our food should be protected from the higher cost.

The Missouri Association for Social Welfare has proposed to the PSC an "essential service rate." The commission would calculate the amount of electricity needed for basic appliances in a typical modest home. Let's say that might be 600 kilowatt-hours per month. In that case, the first 600 kilowatt-hours you used in your home each month would be billed at a lower rate. Any increase AmerenUE is granted would only be billed against the amount of electricity you used above 600 kilowatt-hours.

At present, you actually pay more for the first 750 kilowatt-hours each month and less thereafter. Since a typical low-income home would use less than 750 kilowatt-hours and those of us with larger homes and higher incomes would typically use more, when I play video games with my children I am paying a cheaper rate for my electric power than a low-income family pays to refrigerate and cook their meals.

That is an unjust policy. We call upon the PSC to provide lower costs for our basic electric needs, not higher.

BOB QUINN, Executive Director, Missouri Association for Social Welfare, Jefferson City, Mo.