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      Ameren customers balk at proposed rate increase

      Ameren Missouri said the increase will help cover the cost of new equipment at some of its coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

      Ameren Missouri customers could soon be paying more for electricity if regulators approve a 9.7% rate increase.

      A spokesman for Ameren said the increase would increase the average residential customer's bill by around $10 a month, assuming the average customer uses 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity.

      However, many customers already think the rates are already too high as they are.

      "I'm not a big fan of it," Said Columbia Resident Shannon Collins. "We just had a new baby and we're already kind of pushing it because of daycare costs and our utilities. It's just costs a lot more than what we anticipated with having a newborn, so spending more on our utilities would just kind of be one more thing to the mix."

      "What money are you going to have for yourself?" Said Columbia Resident Dennis Darks. "What money are we going to have... what good will it do if you've got electricity, but no money to buy food to use the electricity?"

      Melinda Archulett said a ten dollar increase in her electric bill would mean that she would have to work extra hours at her part-time job and spend even more time away from her family. "At the end of the year it would be $120. That's more than what we're used to paying, and we're not all used to doing that," Archulett said.

      Ameren Missouri said the $264 million increase is needed for improvements including new equipment at some of its coal fired and nuclear power plants, as well as new electrical substations in the St. Louis area.

      Some customers said they are okay with a small increase if it means upgrades that benefit everyone. "If it's necessary to upgrade the system so that it remains independent so just the families have access to what power they want to use when they need it, then that's fine," said Stephen Flippin.

      The Missouri Public Service Commission could lower the final amount of the rate increase if they decide to approve it. That process could take up to eleven months.