By St. Louis Business Journal

Missouri regulators have approved a $5.6 million rate increase â¿¿ or about half of what Ameren Missouri requested â¿¿ to cover the utilityâ¿¿s investments in infrastructure and the increased cost of providing natural gas service to its customers since its last general rate increase in March 2007.

The rate increase will take effect Feb. 1, the Missouri Public Service Commission said Thursday.

Regulators estimate the impact on a typical residential customer will be about $3.30 a month.

The hike will pay for operating and maintenance expenses and a return on investments in the natural gas mains and service lines that carry natural gas to customers, the Missouri Public Service Commission said.

The actual cost of the natural gas that Ameren Missouri receives from wholesale suppliers is not regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission and is not a part of this rate case. About 60 percent to 70 percent of a customerâ¿¿s natural gas bill reflects the cost of natural gas from wholesale suppliers.

Ameren Missouri had made a rate increase request in June of $11.9 million, or about an extra $7.25 a month for a typical residential customer.

St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri, which is led by President and Chief Executive Warner Baxter, serves about 126,000 natural gas customers in Missouri but itâ¿¿s bigger business is providing electricity.

Last week, regulators said Ameren Missouri can raise its fuel and purchased power adjustment charge on the bills of its electric customers by $63 million.

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