Ameren Missouri requests rate decrease for millions of electric customers

ST. LOUIS (STL.News) – Ameren Missouri, a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), announced today that customers are expected to see a second decrease in electric rates since last summer. Ameren Missouri filed a request with the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) to decrease electric rates for all customers. If approved, the typical residential customer would see a slight rate decrease on monthly bills.

Ameren Missouri requested the approximately $1 million decrease in line with its focus to keep rates stable and predictable as part of the company’s Smart Energy Plan. That plan, announced in August 2018, was enabled by progressive energy legislation enacted in 2018 following widespread support from the Missouri General Assembly.

The rate review request comes as Ameren Missouri is embarking on the largest infrastructure upgrade plan in the company’s 100-year history. The plan includes a $5.3 billion investment in more than 2,000 electric projects over the next five years and is designed to improve the reliability of Missouri’s aging energy grid. The projects will create a smarter, more secure and storm-resilient system to reduce the length and likelihood of outages. The plan also includes an additional $1 billion investment in wind energy.

“We are delivering on the promises in our Smart Energy Plan as we remain focused on improving reliability by investing in our system while keeping rates stable and predictable,” said Michael Moehn, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri. “These investments are providing real value for our customers, creating an energy grid that is more reliable and more resilient to severe weather. These upgrades also allow for the integration of more solar and wind energy as we transition to cleaner energy.”

The rate decrease filing is one step in the 11-month regulatory process to adjust rates. Customers could see rate adjustments in May 2020.

This proposed rate reduction would follow a 6% decrease that customers received in August 2018. Overall, residential electric rates for Ameren Missouri customers remain 21% lower than the national average.

Other proposed features of the rate review request include:

New rate options, including a “Smart Savers” rate: Customers can save if they use energy during non-peak times.
A new “EV Savers” rate: Electric vehicle owners can save by charging their vehicles overnight.
Customer incentives for switching to paperless billing.
“We continue to offer new products and services for our customers, such as a recently launched mobile-friendly website, new proposed specialized rate options and paperless billing incentives,” said Tara Oglesby, vice president, customer experience, Ameren Missouri. “These new offerings, combined with the Smart Energy Plan and the largest energy efficiency plan in our company’s history, provide our customers with more ways to manage and reduce their energy usage for many years.”

The rate decrease is one of the customer-focused initiatives tied to the Smart Energy Plan. The filing comes at a time when Ameren Missouri is making headway in its transition to cleaner energy through wind and solar generation, efforts that will help the company reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, from 2005 levels. The company also plans to roll out the first of its new generation of smart meters starting in 2020.

For additional information on Ameren Missouri’s Smart Energy Plan, visit https://www.ameren.com/Missouri/company/smart-energy-plan

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company’s electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri’s mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company’s service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered “forward-looking” and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed under Risk Factors in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, and elsewhere in this release and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:

regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions, and any changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations, such as those that may result from Ameren Missouri’s natural gas regulatory rate review filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission in December 2018, an appeal filed by the Missouri Office of Public Counsel in January 2019 in Ameren Missouri’s renewable energy standard rate adjustment mechanism case, and future regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions that change regulatory recovery mechanisms;
the effect of Missouri Senate Bill 564 on Ameren Missouri, including as a result of Ameren Missouri’s election to use plant-in-service accounting and the resulting customer rate caps;
the effects of changes in federal, state, or local laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, and energy policies;
the effects on demand for our services resulting from technological advances, including advances in customer energy efficiency, energy storage, and private generation sources, which generate electricity at the site of consumption and are becoming more cost-competitive;
the effectiveness of Ameren Missouri’s customer energy-efficiency programs and the related revenues and performance incentives earned under its Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act programs;
our ability to align overall spending, both operating and capital, with frameworks established by our regulators and to recover these costs in a timely manner in our attempt to earn our allowed returns on equity;
the cost and availability of fuel, such as ultra-low-sulfur coal, natural gas, and enriched uranium used to produce electricity; the cost and availability of purchased power and renewable energy credits; and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities and credits, including our ability to recover the costs for such commodities and credits and our customers’ tolerance for any related price increases;
disruptions in the delivery of fuel, failure of our fuel suppliers to provide adequate quantities or quality of fuel, or lack of adequate inventories of fuel, including nuclear fuel assemblies from the one Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed supplier of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway energy center’s assemblies;
the cost and availability of transmission capacity for the energy generated by Ameren Missouri’s energy centers or required to satisfy Ameren Missouri’s energy sales;
the effectiveness of our risk management strategies and our use of financial and derivative instruments;
the ability to obtain sufficient insurance, including insurance for Ameren Missouri’s Callaway energy center, or, in the absence of insurance, the ability to recover uninsured losses from our customers;
the impact of cyberattacks on us or our suppliers, which could, among other things, result in the loss of operational control of energy centers and electric and natural gas transmission and distribution systems and/or the loss of data, such as customer, employee, financial, and operating system information;
business and economic conditions, including their impact on interest rates, collection of our receivable balances, and demand for our products;
disruptions of the capital markets, deterioration in our credit metrics, including as a result of the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or other events that may have an adverse effect on the cost or availability of capital, including short-term credit and liquidity;
the actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions;
the inability of our counterparties to meet their obligations with respect to contracts, credit agreements, and financial instruments;
the impact of weather conditions and other natural phenomena on us and our customers, including the impact of system outages;
the construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery of generation, transmission, and distribution assets;
the effects of breakdowns or failures of electric generation, transmission, or distribution equipment or facilities, which could result in unanticipated liabilities or unplanned outages;
the operation of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway energy center, including planned and unplanned outages, and decommissioning costs;
the impact of current environmental laws and new, more stringent, or changing requirements, including those related to carbon dioxide and the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, other emissions and discharges, cooling water intake structures, coal combustion residuals, and energy efficiency, that could limit or terminate the operation of certain of Ameren Missouri’s energy centers, increase our operating costs or investment requirements, result in an impairment of our assets, cause us to sell our assets, reduce our customers’ demand for electricity or natural gas, or otherwise have a negative financial effect;
the impact of complying with renewable energy requirements in Missouri;
labor disputes, work force reductions, changes in future wage and employee benefits costs, including those resulting from changes in discount rates, mortality tables, returns on benefit plan assets, and other assumptions;
the impact of negative opinions of us or our utility services that our customers, legislators, or regulators may have or develop, which could result from a variety of factors, including failures in system reliability, failure to implement our investment plans or to protect sensitive customer information, increases in rates, or negative media coverage;
the impact of adopting new accounting guidance;
the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures;
legal and administrative proceedings; and
acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, or other intentionally disruptive acts.
New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained or implied in any forward-looking statement. Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events.