Letter to the Editor

Utility rates and special deals

Noranda Aluminum operates a smelter plant near New Madrid that employs 500 or so of our neighbors. Noranda claims that Ameren Missouri must cut the rate it charges for electricity used at the New Madrid plant by approximately 25 percent or those jobs might go away.

To reduce Noranda's electric rate by that magnitude would force Ameren Missouri to raise rates to every other residential, commercial and industrial customer it serves by about 2 percent. Wal-Mart and the City of St. Louis have come forward to oppose Noranda on this.

The Missouri Public Service Commission regulates the rates of investor-owned electric utilities operating within the State of Missouri. It is charged with the responsibility of seeing that Ameren's rates are set at the lowest level possible that will allow Ameren to recover its operating and maintenance costs plus a rate of return on investment that the commission deems is "fair and reasonable." Rates are required to be set so that no undue discrimination is introduced between the various classes for service or between customers within a given class of service.

It is clear to me that any arbitrary reduction in the rate of one customer at the expense of all customers is discriminatory and unfair. I believe the Missouri Public Service Commission cannot legally allow Noranda to reap a gigantic rate reduction at the expense of every other Ameren customer. It is important that Noranda's employees keep their jobs, but surely there are other ways to make that happen than by dipping into the pockets of every other Ameren Missouri customer.

LARRY D. QUINN, Cape Girardeau