By John Coffman

Energy utility lobbyists have been exerting increasing influence over Missouri by rewriting laws that are supposed to protect consumers.

Since 2003, utilities have successfully lobbied for seven unfair surcharges to be added onto our utility bills. Energy monopolies love surcharges because they allow rates to increase without a full audit by the Public Service Commission, and even allow rates to go up during a period when the utility’s overall costs are going down.

This onslaught of extraordinary new ways to raise rates for electricity and natural gas has not even stopped in the face of the current deep recession. In fact, 2009 may be the year that politicians succeed in overturning the citizen-led ballot initiative that banned Construction-Work-In-Progress (CWIP). The anti-CWIP statute was passed by voters by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in 1976 and remains one of our most important consumer protection laws. This law currently prevents electric utilities from raising rates for power plants that are not yet providing power.