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Your Opinion: Don't change CWIP law

Your Opinion: Don't change CWIP law

September 14th, 2011 by Dennis Morrissey, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

If a person was to ask for a loan but couldn't guarantee any return on investment, wasn't sure the money would result in a finished product, and couldn't say what that finished product would look like or cost, it is doubtful the person would get a loan from anyone.

However, this is exactly what would happen if Ameren, Rep. Riddle and Sen. Kehoe get their way and change our laws. Now we have a law that says we don't have to pay a public utility for the cost of construction work in progress (CWIP). New facilities must produce power before costs can be charged to ratepayers.

Why change the law and pay $45 million in licensing cost without knowing if or when a plant will ever be built, what type plant will be built and what benefit it will be to us ratepayers.

Ameren tries to scare us into a law change saying the interest costs will be excessive if they wait until they have a finished plant. They try to use the carrot-and-stick approach to get the law changes, saying they might be able to get some federal grant funds to defray the cost, if we change the law to give them upfront funding.

They say we need more electricity but, we haven't experienced brown outs in Missouri. Will the extra power benefit us or just be sold at highly discounted rates to industrial customers like Ameren does now with the aluminum smelters? Will the extra power just be sold to someone else outside Missouri? It is doubtful ratepayers would ever pay less for electricity. Keep in mind the $45 million permit fee is only the tip of the iceberg and we will be asked to pay much more if the current law is passed.

We may eventually need the extra power in Missouri but the proposed law change will not guarantee Ameren will ever build a plant. As it stands now, all I hear is: Ameren gets a rate increase, I pay more for electricity, and a select few get a job with Ameren if/when they ever build something.

If this law change is so good for the "state" let the whole state pay, not just Ameren customers. Maybe the state should loan Ameren the money. Bet that won't fly. They can't afford it any more than the rest of us.