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11/3/2001

Announcement of Reduction of Gas Bills for St. Louis Area Is A Sham and
Not Enough For Low-Income, Elderly, Disabled and Laid-off
Workers . . . More Relief is Needed

The Laclede Gas Company's announcement that the average gas bill will be reduced by about $54.00 is good news for now, but they are also basing that reduction on a mild winter and the reduction does not take in other variables. A prediction of 35% reduction is not enough considering Laclede made more than $30 million in profit this past winter. Since the September 11 terrorists attacks, America and the St. Louis area are still reeling from the negative economic impacts, including lay-offs. Laclede Gas is using part of this announcement as a sham to have the media overlook the thousands of people who have been shut-off from last winter, and hundreds who are facing shut-offs.

Laclede and other energy companies owe it to the public to further reduce the gas bills by at least another 20 percent. Heat-Up St. Louis, a non-profit energy assistance program, covering Missouri and Illinois counties, is also asking that Laclede Gas give past due customers an opportunity to pay a small percentage on their delinquent bills, and be able to spread the remaining balance over a 18-month period. If not the area might face life and death situations, because people will stay have to make choices between perscription drugs, eating and heating.

"America is facing a recession, and unemployment is climbing each day, especially for those in the service sector --- traveling, hotel and hospitality industries, "said Gentry W. Trotter, president of Heat-Up St. Louis. "Laclede needs to give more of it profits back to help the typical household, as well as those who are being laid-off in the St. Louis region. Gas it still not affordable for the needy."

Low-income families, and the middle working class need more relief this winter. In addition, thousands of area households are facing shut-off notices. We encourage the Missouri Public Service Commission to extend the Cold Weather Rule from October until May, instead of November through March. This gives the customer time to play catch-up between gas and electric bills.

In addition, Heat-Up St. Louis is opposing a $39 million gas rate hike which would increase the customer's average gas bill to about $4.90. Next weekend the group is hoping to begin its petition drive against the rate increase. Those interested in serving as volunteers can do so, by calling 314-241-7668.

Heat-Up St. Louis is a nonprofit energy assistance program covering the Bi-State area, and tax-deductible donations may be made by sending checks payable to: Heat-Up St. Louis, c/o Truman Bank, P.O. Box 9330, St. Louis, MO 63117.


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