The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a modified agreement between Ameren Missouri and the Office of the Public Counsel to provide approximately $3.5 million to help low-income Ameren customers needing assistance with their electric bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OPC is a separate state agency that represents the general public in matters before the PSC.
Ameren Missouri serves approximately 1.28 million electric customers in Missouri and is the main supplier of electricity to Jefferson City.
In March, the PSC approved an agreement among parties in an Ameren rate case, which reduced Ameren's annual electric revenue by approximately $32 million, effective April 1. In that case, the PSC also approved a separate agreement between Ameren and the OPC in which the electric company would donate approximately $7 million to the 14 consumer action agencies in the state that administer low-income weatherization assistance programs in Ameren's service territory. That money would be spent on low-income weatherization or for assistance to low-income customers to participate in Ameren energy efficiency programs.
In a recent filing with the PSC, the OPC and Ameren sought approval to modify this agreement, saying, "The impacts of COVID-19 on Ameren Missouri's low-income customers is particularly acute in terms of those customers' ability to pay their utility bills." The filing also noted while low-income customers would ultimately benefit from the implementation of weatherization measures at their residences, weatherization activity in the state has all but stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the modified agreement, $3.5 million of the approximate $7 million will be used to provide low-income energy assistance to Ameren's electric customers needing assistance with paying their electric bills. The other $3.5 million will be used for low-income weatherization/energy efficiency as originally agreed. Ameren officials anticipate the funding will be phased-in over the remainder of the year to help those in need with their current past-due balances, summer past-due balances and past-due balances this fall/winter. Ameren will work with community action agencies and other energy assistance agencies throughout the state to administer the funds.