Rates for natural gas could go up

Saturday, March 10, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- Natural gas customers in parts of eastern, southeastern and central Missouri would pay an additional $2.24 to $6.86 per month under an agreement between Ameren Corp. and the staff of the Missouri Public Service Commission, Ameren said Friday.

Ameren wouldn't seek another natural gas delivery rate hike for at least three years under the proposal that must still be approved by the PSC. PSC spokesman Kevin Kelly said commission members will consider the rate increase in a meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Jefferson City.

The rate increase, effective April 1, would provide Ameren with an additional $6 million annually in operating revenue, the St. Louis-based company said.

Ameren provides electricity to 2.4 million customers in Missouri and Illinois. It is a smaller player in natural gas, with 125,000 Missouri customers.

The amount of the rate increase depends on where the customer lives. For those in central and eastern Missouri, natural gas delivery rates would increase 3 percent, or $2.24 per month. In southeast Missouri, the increase would be 4 percent, or $2.62. Customers in Rolla, Salem and Owensville would see delivery rates increase 8 percent, or $6.86.

Ameren last increased natural gas delivery rates in February 2004, spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said.

Natural gas prices have two components -- the delivery rate and the Purchased Gas Adjustment charge.

Ameren said gas delivery rates reflect the cost of constructing, operating and maintaining its natural gas system, and account for about one-third of a residential customer's total bill.

The PGA charge accounts for the rest, excluding taxes, and primarily reflects the commodity cost of natural gas purchased from suppliers. Price changes are determined by market conditions and are passed on to customers with no markup by Ameren, Gallagher said.

Among other things, the agreement with the PSC staff also calls for Ameren to provide funding to help low-income residents with weather-proofing and energy-efficiency efforts.

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