Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Callaway-2 Financing Bill
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Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Callaway-2 Financing Bill

Date: February 10, 2009
By: Elizabeth Billingsley
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: AmerenUE threatened that if a current law prohibiting the company from passing finance costs to ratepayers before construction is complete isn't changed, then it can't build a second nuclear power plant in Missouri. 

RunTime:0:40
OutCue: SOC

AmerenUE CEO Tom Voss argued that it must be allowed to increase its customer's rates in order to keep up with Missouri's future energy needs. 

Critics, however, say that it's not fair to force ratepayers to bear the costs and risks of a new plant just because the private market won't take them on. Among the critics was John Coffman of the Consumer Council of Missouri.

Actuality:  COFFMAN.WAV
Run Time: 00:12
Description: "We're talking about a bailout for a company that does not have to compete for customers and that already has an opportunity to earn a very healthy return."
 
Senate Committee Chair Brad Lager issued his own warning -- the bill might not make it out of the committee.
Intro: A legislator warned that plans to allow AmerenUE to increase its rates to finance a second nuclear power plant is in trouble this session. RunTime:0:49
OutCue: SOC

The Senate Commerce Committee heard from all sides regarding a bill that would repeal an existing law that prohibits AmerenUE from passing along financing costs to build a new nuke plant in Missouri before the plant is built. 

But the company's president signaled that it might cancel the plans to build if the legislature doesn't act soon, stating that if the law isn't changed, then it can't fund Callaway-2.

 
Actuality:  VOSST.WAV
Run Time: 00:08
Description: "If we don't get the signals that the state wants this, we're not emotionally attached to this.  We're happy to walk away from this if that's what the state of Missouri wants."

AmerenUE says it would ultimately increase customer rates 10 to 12 percent over the course of the plant's construction, if allowed.
 
Critics assert that AmerenUE has not provided enough information to evaluate the company's projections and warn that actual rate increases could be higher.