- To authorize Ameren Missouri to offer discounted electric rates for a company willing to reopen the Noranda Aluminum smelter in New Madrid County, which closed in early 2016, and for a mini-steel mill that has been proposed to be built nearby.
- To give the governor’s donors in the utility industry increased authority to raise customer rates without approval by the Missouri Public Service Commission.
House Democrats support bringing new jobs to Missouri but oppose increasing profits for regulated monopolies at the expense of Missouri consumers.
Before passing House Bill 1 on Tuesday, the House Utilities Committee followed the suggestion of House Democrats and stripped the giveaways for the utilities industry from the bill, leaving only the job creation component in place.
While HB 1 is much improved from the original version, the legislation still raises several issues of concern:
- Ameren would make up its losses on any special rate given to the steel mill and/or aluminum smelter by increasing rates on its other customers, both business and residential.
- The proposed steel mill would be built within the city limits of New Madrid, which has its own municipal power utility. So, Ameren customers in St. Louis and elsewhere would be footing the bill for the mill’s power subsidy while the residents of New Madrid get the benefit and pay nothing.
- The identity of the company said to be considering building the steel mill is a closely held secret. It’s simply bad government for lawmakers to be considering special deals for the company without knowing anything about it.
- The bill contains no safeguards to ensure that if special rates are granted, the recipients will keep their end of the bargain and deliver on their promises.