State Representative Flider going to bat against ICC

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State Representative Bob Flider along with two consumer advocacy groups is pushing for a bill to allow oral arguments on behalf of consumers during rate cases.

Representative Flider says last September the ICC approved a $163-million Ameren rate increase after rejecting a request from the Illinois Attorney Generals office to make an oral argument at the end of the case.

Flider's now calling foul and demanding changes be made to allow consumer representatives to speak on behalf of the people.

"They take evidence, there's mountains of forms or data but it seems they do their best not to have to deal with the people who pay their salaries, that would be utility consumers," said Representative Bob Flider, D-Mt. Zion.

Representative Flider has few kind words for the Illinois Commerce Commission or ICC. Flider along with the AARP and the Illinois Attorney Generals office are coming out swinging. Claiming the ICC is not protecting consumer's rights.

"At the time when we expected the ICC would stand up for consumers or at least give them a fair shake, the ICC thumbed its nose at consumers during the last Ameren rate case," Flider said.

Where the official consumer representative, the Illinois Attorney Generals office was told they could not present oral arguments at the close of the case.

But an ICC spokesperson backs up the commission's stance saying the commission spent six weeks going over sworn testimony submitted by the attorney generals office and it's up to the commission to decide whether the points in the testimony need to argued vocally.

"We feel very strongly that in a case like this, where your talking about shifting cost to consumers, that procedure over substance is probably not the way to go," said Katherine Saltmarsh, of the Illinois Attorney General's office.

Representative Flider says Ameren's last rate increase kicked into effect in October and there are already rumblings of another increase on the way. 

The ICC will not confirm any rumors but records show Ameren was approved for only half the rate hike they requested.

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