Ameren Illinois is facing some blowback from the Citizens Utility Board in filings to the Illinois Commerce Commission. The watchdog group CUB says Ameren is not cutting rates enough in its long-term plan to implement “smart grid” technology. Specifically, CUB is challenging more than $1 million in expenses, largely in branding and marketing. CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen says sponsoring basketball tournaments and giving away coffee mugs have nothing to do with “keeping the lights on.”
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Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris says all of the expenses are defensible. In fact, he says, Ameren is obligated to defend them before the ICC. Using “branding” as an example, Morris says it’s important for Ameren to identify itself, particularly when it has brought three identities – Ameren Cilco, Ameren IP, and Ameren CIPS – under the Ameren Illinois umbrella.