CUB Statement On ICC Rejection of Ameren 'Smart Grid' Plan

CHICAGO, May 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Citizens Utility Board (ICC) commends the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for rejecting Ameren Illinois' "smart-grid" plan.  CUB is cautiously optimistic that high-tech upgrades to the power grid could save consumers money and improve reliability in the long run, but it has to be done right. Ameren's plan was a step in the right direction, but our expert testimony found that it lacked key details on how it would benefit customers. We look forward to working with Ameren to improve its plan.

Background:

* Late last year, Ameren pushed state legislators to pass the "Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act," also called the "smart-grid bill." The legislation is designed to help Ameren pay for $625 million in upgrades to the power grid.  

* CUB is cautiously optimistic that these upgrades can cut future electric bills and improve reliability—but it filed expert testimony critiquing Ameren's smart-grid plan as part of its mission to make sure the utilities do the smart grid right.

* CUB's expert testimony was presented by Miriam Horn, the New York City-based director of the Environmental Defense Fund's Smart Grid Initiative. The testimony cited a lack of detail to back up Ameren's claim that its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Plan would give customers $275 million in benefits. CUB recommended that the ICC reject the plan, or order Ameren to modify it through discussions with consumer advocates and other stakeholders in the process.

* CUB also has filed testimony arguing that Ameren should give its customers an upfront $42.8 million rate cut, in connection with the company's proposed "formula rate" plan that will help it pay for smart-grid upgrades. CUB argued that the company should not try to charge customers for costs associated with such things as holiday decorations, corporate sponsorships, and sporting events.

CUB is Illinois' leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, CUB has helped save consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and securing refunds. For more information, call CUB's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556, or visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

SOURCE Citizens Utility Board



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