JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri regulators have approved an infrastructure surcharge for natural gas customers of Ameren Missouri.
The Public Service Commission says the surcharge will cost residential customers 75 cents per month.
Ameren Missouri sought the surcharge for infrastructure improvements it has made since the start of 2011. Its costs for replacing and relocating natural gas pipelines are not included in its rates.
St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri has about nearly 127,000 natural gas customers in Missouri.
The Consumer Council, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, is arguing against passage of Missouri Senate Bill 207 that would allow Ameren to establish a surcharge in order to generate millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements.
Consumer groups argue that the extra revenue isn't needed since the utility earned well above it's authorized return limits in 2012. They also point to a $263 million rate increase that took effect in January.
Ameren officials say the higher than expected profits last year were due to unusual circumstances, like the extra-hot summer, and weren't enough to cover needed infrastructure improvements.
One proposal could require residents to pay a higher sales tax in order to pay for transportation projects, and another would let electric utilities seek a surcharge to recoup costs from infrastructure projects.
A third measure would call for issuing several hundred million dollars in bonds to fund improvements on college campuses and state facilities. Taxes that Missourians pay could go to paying off the bonds.
Lawmakers say the influx of ideas comes because there is a new willingness to discuss major challenges facing Missouri. They are skeptical everything would pass in the same year.