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Illinois Commerce Commission Delivers $207 Million Ameren Rate Hike

Consumers Voices Ignored as Gas and Electricity Rate Hike Adds to Financial Woes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP, elected officials, consumer advocates and Ameren customers converged on the Illinois Commerce Commission building in Springfield today urging the Commission to reject Ameren's $207 million rate hike. The ICC ignored the groups - approving the hike, which will hit customers' bills starting in January.

AARP is strongly opposed to the rate increase, which adds to the financial troubles of Illinois consumers already struggling with the rising costs of gas, food and health care.

"For older adults and working families already struggling with the soaring costs of basic necessities - this new rate increase adds on to their piling financial concerns," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. "Ameren's CEO makes $2 million a year. That's not a company that is struggling and certainly they do not need to increase their rates on the backs of older residents and families."

The Ameren rate hike includes a $168 million increase in electricity delivery, and $39 million in natural gas. In the face of the hikes, Illinois consumers claimed one victory today, as the ICC denied Ameren two new surcharges that would have forced consumers to pay more for Ameren's bad debt and infrastructure improvements.

"AARP is very disappointed in the ICC's decision to put the interests of Ameren above the needs of consumers," added Gallo. "Once more, the ICC has ignored the people of Illinois."

Over the course of the last year, AARP members, elected officials and consumer advocates across central and southern Illinois protested the hikes - attending community meetings on the issue, signing petitions to oppose the hikes, calling the ICC offices, and speaking out at ICC hearings.

While older people can spend nearly 20% of their income on utility costs, a new AARP survey found the problem to be even more severe with:

-- 42% of people age 50 and older saying the economic downturn is making it

harder to pay for utilities.

-- Nearly 10% of people over 45 who earn less than $50,000 say that home

energy costs have led to the disconnection of at least one utility.

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