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      Ameren Illinois seeking $206 million rate hike

      Ameren Illinois is seeking a more than $206 million rate hike to help pay for upgrades to its electricity power grid.

      The (Peoria) Journal Star reports that the utility filed that request on April 17. If successful, the higher rates would go into effect in January.

      For residents in central Illinois, that would mean an 8.3 percent increase for average use, adding $6.37 to monthly bills.

      Ameren plans to start installing new customer meters this summer. The upgrades will help it detect and isolate outages faster.

      The Citizens Utility Board watchdog group opposes the rate increase.

      Its director, David Kolata, tells the Journal Star that "after an expensive winter, this is the last thing Ameren customers want to hear."