Letter to the Editor

A fair and just decision

Monday, July 30, 2012

On the morning of Dec. 14, 2005, a section of the upper Taum Sauk reservoir failed, releasing 1.3 billion gallons of water. Ameren, who operates the pumped-storage hydraulic plant at Taum Sauk, admitted numerous mistakes and errors in judgment that led to the disaster.

The utility agreed in 2007 not to charge electric customers for the cost of rebuilding, but tried to sway the Public Service Commission (PSC) to do just that. AARP intervened pointing out that all of the costs of the rebuild were the direct consequence of Ameren's negligent and imprudent acts in destroying the power plant. The PSC ruled these costs should not be borne by ratepayers.

In a move that represented Ameren's latest effort to recoup some of the costs of the new reservoir, it appealed the PSC decision in the Western District Court of Appeals.

AARP intervened again filing a brief defending the PSC decision and protecting consumers from bearing any of the cost of the Taum Sauk rebuild. Recently the court defended the PSC decision, stating the $89 million of rate increases at stake could not even be called an "enhancement," because the new reservoir was required to be built as safe as current day specifications.

Today AARP and our members are celebrating a fair and just decision from both the Missouri Public Service Commission and the court of appeals. What happened at Taum Sauk was devastating. It would have been equally devastating to have electric ratepayers on the hook for Ameren's negligence.

CRAIG EICHELMAN, state director, AARP Missouri, Kansas City, Mo.