Ameren Missouri submitted their Project Boundary Amendment Application four months early.

Ameren Missouri submitted their Project Boundary Amendment Application four months early.   The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been under scrutiny for quite some time.  Meetings have been held in DC concerning their overreaching policies.  Now FERC is worried. They are asking for our public comments to be registered using their eComment.  Per FERC, “In determining appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene.   The deadline to post comments to the FERC is March 5.   You can go to:  We recommend that you create your comments in a Word or Text file and then copy/paste it into the comments box.  There is a limit of 6,000 characters.    Please reference Project 459.  Start your comment with, “I oppose Ameren’s proposed request for a project boundary to the 662 contour for Project 459 and request a motion to intervene, because....” and add your own concerns and/or reasons.

After the three town hall meetings, Ameren sponsored two workshops.  From these workshops they collected over 400 comments and only 23% of the respondents agreed with Ameren’s proposal.  The remaining 77% misunderstood  the amendment application according to Ameren.  The comments collected from the original team of 42 select members that reviewed the last SMP came from resource agencies or members of the SMP team and not the public.  In that case, they favored Ameren’s proposed SMP.  This time the real representation of the true stakeholders were represented and 77% disagreed.  I am really tired of being told I don’t understand, it reminds me of Katie Couric and Bill Clinton who look at the middle class as the “great unwashed.”  It is that collective speak where “We the People” are considered somehow uneducated, uninformed or somehow unqualified to understand. 

WE “misunderstand” that the result gives unfettered public access to private property within the FERC boundary; WE “misunderstand” the boundary change needed to increase water levels and operation of the Project even though the utility is not proposing any changes to project operations;  WE “misunderstand” that the amendment is an attempt by Ameren to seize private property and/or alter existing parcel lines;  WE “misunderstand” that the amendment application allows an increase in fees to property remaining within the proposed boundary, by implementing the permit program in appendix B of the SMP.  Article 419 of the project license allows a classification system through leases, rights-of-way, fee-title conveyances;  WE “misunderstand” that the current FERC boundary is established at elevation 660’ and the proposed boundary somehow adds property to the Project.

Call your U.S. Representative and Senator and asks them to support H.R. 3663, Supporting Home Owner Rights Enforcement Act, the S.H.O.R.E. Act.

There is hope though.  In July 2000, the Missouri Court of Appeals, affirmed judgment in favor of adverse possession for Lois M. Gaar.  This case clearly defined the difference between a regulation and Congressional authorization;  that public interest is not the same thing as public use, and clearly spells out when supremacy clause can be used;  the mere issuance of an operating license by FERC, which broadly defines “public interest,” is not the same thing as “public use.”  The utility ignored the definition of a “project” under the Federal Powers Act (FPA) where FERC receives its authorities.  The lands in question were not going to be used to aid in the production of electricity nor did the utility intend to use it for that purpose.

In 2006 a law was passed in Missouri that an individual can not sue a utility for adverse possession.  BUT, on January 10, 2012, in the Missouri Circuit Court of Taney County, issued a summary judgment in the Fandel vs. Empire Electric, that adverse possession is still feasible.  The land in dispute had a titled deed dating back to 1911.  The original owners and successors mowed the lawns paid the taxes on the lands and improvements.  The Court concluded that the statute did not bar adverse possession because the subject property was not put to a “public use.”  The statutory period for establishing adverse possession is ten years.  Once a title becomes vested by adverse possession, it remains so until passed by a grant or operation of law as other titles are transferred.  You see the Title is considered “ripened” and adverse possession does apply. 

A little added plus in this case was that the cost of the proceedings were charged against the utility.
You should be aware that a bill was introduced this January in the Missouri House of Representatives and is now in committee.  It is HB 1316, sponsored by Rep.  Riddle.  It changes the laws regarding the regulation of public utilities and creates the Public Counsel Fund.  This bill will cost Missouri businesses and residents $45 million plus interest and Ameren will receive an increase of $115 million over 20 years.  It will not produce one watt of electricity, it will not result in a new electric power plant and it will not produce one job.  This bill has nothing to do with building a new power plant.  The proposed Public Council Fund will reimburse expenses for site preparation.  That is why it is called an Ameren bailout.  This allows the utility to access our hard earned tax dollars rather than using their own money.

Ameren not only is trying to change our property rights here at the Lake and hopes to get legislation passed for reimbursement for expenses, they are also demanding a $263 million rate hike on Missouri working families and employers.  They have already been awarded a 26% rate hike in the last two years, totaling over $577 million by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Ameren made over $600 million last year and still seeks to raise rates on consumers.

Call your State representatives and tell them not to vote for HB 1316.  Don’t forget to go into eComments to register your disapproval of Ameren’s amendment application of the project boundary.

-Jane Boyce, Lake Area Conservative Club