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Heat-Up St. Louis Opposes $36.1 Million Laclede Gas
Rate Hike During Weakened Economy And Urges The
Missouri PSC to Scrutinize Increases

St. Louis - MO: Heat-Up St. Louis, a regional non-profit energy assistance and advocacy group, established to help Missouri and Illinois residents with home heating related issues, has announced that its board of directors voted to unanimously oppose the Laclede Gas Company $36.1 million rate hike. The rate increase will result in about a $4.40 monthly average increase per residential customer.

Laclede Gas Company with more than 600,000 customers in Eastern Missouri made the request earlier this year.  Their request is now under review by the Missouri Public Service Commission which is currently holding local public hearings in St. Charles, downtown St. Louis and Clayton to receive comments from customers and public groups like Heat-Up St. Louis.

Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., vice chairman of the board of directors will speak before the Commission on Wednesday, August 14, at 12:30 p.m., at the Wainwright State Office Building, Room 116, at 111 North Seventh Street. Also scheduled to appear will be Barbara A. Pacifico, vice president; Curt Swearingen, CPA, treasurer; and J. Kim Tucci, chairman of the board.

"For some of  us, the rate increase of about $4.40 on our monthly gas bill might force us to miss a movie, one weekend," says Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr. "However, for poor families already hurting due to previous gas rate hikes, at unaffordable prices, it will literally take food from their tables, and prescription drugs from their medicine cabinets."

Heat-Up St. Louis officials also believe that these non-gas increases which include increases in salaries and benefits for the gas company, come at a bad economic time when hundreds of people in St. Louis are being laid-off.  The economy appears to be worsening in some parts of the St. Louis region hitting hard the working poor and middle-income families.

The Heat-Up St. Louis board of directors noted that if Laclede Gas wishes to offset its low sales revenue due to an anticipated warmer winter they need to take a harder look at their pay structure for executives and employees.

"We  believe that Laclede Gas has made significant profits over the past several years that they should not have to come to the ratepayers for increases in salaries and benefits," says Reverend Nance.

The advocacy group, which is on the front-line of helping the needy ratepayers, also raises concerns as it relates to Laclede's weather-mitigation where its Chairman Doug Yeager wants customers to pay more during low-use months and less during high-use months.

The Board of Directors of Heat-Up St. Louis believes that the residential customers will only benefit a tiny bit from the  Laclede's proposed weather-mitigation proposal and that Laclede Gas' profits will soar.  "This new corporate math in the end will hurt at risk rate payers, who will then be faced with higher gas bills in the summer, in addition to fighting off those typical high electric bills due to increased air-conditioning usage," says Reverend Nance.

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