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MO lawmakers consider utility hike bill - KOAM TV 7

MO lawmakers consider utility hike bill

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MCDONALD COUNTY, MISSOURI -

As Empire District Electric seeks a rate hike from customers of an additional $12.54 per bill, Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow utility companies to raise customer rates with less and less control by regulators.

According to local representative Bill Lant (R-159), increased demands by the EPA to eliminate coal-fired plants, mixed with power plants switching to environmentally sound alternatives has made legislature want to help the energy companies recover cost of re-building infrastructure and pipelines as they're being built.

"It's not comfortable to pay a huge electric bill or a huge gas bill all at one time. And this would keep them from having to take a giant increase when the new plants are completed," Lant said.

At this point, it is just a Senate bill, but Lant said it's addressing a problem that will not go away. 

"I'm pretty sure if no legislation comes out of it this year, we're going to have to deal with it again next year," Lant said.

Bill payers are split on how to feel.

"I don't know enough on both sides but I don't understand why we would ever, ever turn them loose to make whatever raises they felt," business owner Scott Dennis of Pineville said.

Others realize the bill's abilities to breed competition.

"I'm a fan of deregulating any kind of industry. Basically people are going to go with the best service for the best price. So i would say at first blush, it's probably, in the long haul, going to be a positive," Anderson resident Paul Buckner said.

The bill would be amending the regulatory law set in Missouri in 1913. 

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