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Ameren (NYSE:AEE)

Q1 2014 Earnings Call

May 08, 2014 10:00 am ET

Executives

Douglas Fischer -

Warner L. Baxter - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Martin J. Lyons - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Maureen A. Borkowski - Chairman of ATX, Chief Executive Officer of ATX and President of ATX

Analysts

Stephen Byrd - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Paul T. Ridzon - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Carl Seligson

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

Operator

Greetings. Welcome to the Ameren Corporation's First Quarter 2014 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the floor over to your host, Mr. Douglas Fischer, Senior Director of Investor Relations. Thank you, Mr. Fischer, you may now begin.

Douglas Fischer

Thank you, and good morning. I'm Doug Fischer, Senior Director of Investor Relations for Ameren Corporation. On the call with me today are Warner Baxter, our President and Chief Executive Officer; and Marty Lyons, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, as well as other members of the Ameren management team. Before we begin, let me cover a few administrative details. This call is being broadcast live on the Internet and the webcast will be available for 1 year on our website at ameren.com. Further, this call contains time sensitive data that is accurate only as of the date of today's live broadcast and redistribution of this broadcast is prohibited.

To assist with our call this morning, we have posted on our website, a presentation that will be referenced by our speakers. To access this presentation, please look in the Investors section of our website under Webcasts and Presentations and follow the appropriate link.

Turning to Page 2 of the presentation. I need to inform you that comments made during this conference call may contain statements that are commonly referred to as forward-looking statements. Such statements include those about future expectations, believes, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions and financial performance. We caution you that various factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. For additional information concerning these factors, please read the Forward-looking Statement section in the news release we issued today, and the Forward-looking Statements and Risk Factors sections in our filings with the SEC.

Warner will begin this call with a review of first quarter 2014 earnings and updated 2014 guidance as well as an update on legislative, regulatory and business developments. Marty will follow with a more detailed discussion of first quarter financial results and comment on earnings considerations for the balance of the year. We will then open the call for questions.

Before Warner begins, I'd like to mention that all per share amounts discussed during today's presentation, including earnings guidance, are presented on a continuing operations basis, unless otherwise noted.

Now here's Warner, who will start on Page 4 of the presentation.

Warner L. Baxter

Great. Thanks, Doug, and good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. Today we announced first quarter 2014 earnings of $0.40 per share compared to first quarter 2013 earnings of $0.22 per share. This increase was primarily the result of much colder winter temperatures, which drove higher electric and natural gas sales levels, increased revenues for electric transmission service. Earnings comparison also benefited from lower interest expense, increased Illinois electric delivery earnings recognized under formula ratemaking, the substantial elimination of business and administrative costs, previously incurred in support of divested merchant generation business. Today, we also updated our earnings guidance for this year. We now expect 2014 earnings to be in a range of $2.30 to $2.50 per share, a $0.05 per share increase from a prior range of $2.25 to $2.45 per share. This increase incorporates the positive effect of a cooler than normal first quarter temperatures just discussed. Marty will provide further details on first quarter earnings in a few minutes. Before he does so, I would like to update you on recent developments in our Missouri and Illinois utilities and the FERC regulated electric transmission activities.

Turning to Page 5, I'll begin my Missouri update by discussing legislative matters. In the current session of the Missouri General Assembly, we have strongly advocated for legislation that would reduce regulatory lag and support investments in aging infrastructure, namely Senate Bill 909 and House Bill 2204. However, with legislative session scheduled to end next week on May 16, it does not appear likely that such legislation will win approval from General Assembly this year. While progress was made in securing support for these bills from certain legislators who have opposed the infrastructure legislation proposed last year, other legislative priorities such as income tax and education reform overshadowed the need to enhance policies to support energy, infrastructure investment this session. We are disappointed that infrastructure legislation is not likely to be enacted this session. But this will not affect our ability to execute the strategic plan we've discussed with you in the past. We have and will continue to operate and invest in our utility businesses in a manner consistent with existing regulatory frameworks. Under the 5-year investment plan, we've presented to you in February, we will continue to allocate less discretionary capital to Missouri operations and greater levels of capital to our Illinois energy delivery and transmission businesses where regulatory frameworks are more supportive of infrastructure investments. Nevertheless, another key component of our long-term strategy is to enhance frameworks and advocate for responsible energy policies. As a result, we will continue to actively work with legislators and other key stakeholders to build support for energy policies that reduce regulatory lag and support investment in our aging infrastructure in Missouri. Such investments will result in long-term benefits for our customers, shareholders and the entire State of Missouri.

Moving from legislative to regulatory matters, I'd like to update you on important pending and planned rate cases in Missouri. Last month the Missouri Public Service Commission established schedules for the electric rate shift and earnings complaint cases filed by Ameren Missouri's largest industrial customer, Noranda, which operates an aluminum smelter in southeastern Missouri. In the rate shift case, the commission schedule calls for hearings in mid-June and a decision on August 6. While in the earnings case, the schedule calls for hearings in late July and early August, but the decision on September 26. These schedules are summarized in the appendix to today's presentation. In both of these cases, the burden proof rests solely on Noranda and the 37 residential customers, who joined the complaint filings. While Noranda's electric rate shift proposal is revenue neutral to Ameren Missouri, we do not believe Noranda's proposed reduction in its electric rates, which is significantly below its cost of service, is appropriate, or in the best interest of other 1.2 million electric customers. Nor do we believe that an overall reduction in our electric rates is justified. The testimony we filed under rate shift case tomorrow and the earnings case on June 6 will strongly support our positions. In fact, by July 15, Ameren Missouri will file a long-planned electric rate increase request. This rate request will further demonstrate that Ameren Missouri's rates should be increased to recover updated operating costs, including higher net fuel cost. To cover and earn a return on additional electric infrastructure investments made for the benefit of our customers and to reflect rebates provided for customer-installed solar generation. The additional infrastructure investments include several significant projects. These are, replacement of the reactor head at our Callaway Nuclear Energy Center, in order to ensure continued safe and dependable operations. Upgrades to the electrostatic precipitators at our coal fired Labadie Energy Center to reduce emissions and make the air cleaner. Two new substations in downtown St. Louis and construction of the O'Fallon Renewable Energy Center and Facility. All of these projects are scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year and therefore, eligible for inclusion in the new rates.

In summary, our rate increase request in Missouri is about providing our customers and the state with safe, dependable, and cleaner energy they need and expect. I'll conclude my Missouri update by commenting on the United States Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR. We are continuing to review the court's decision and expect the EPA to issue guidance on implementing the rule in the near future. Assuming the EPA does not revise the emission reductions it previously included in the CSAPR, we believe this new rule will have a minimal effect on our business. This is due to the fact that in recent years, we've taken a number of important actions to significantly reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from Missouri energy centers. We installed scrubbers at our Sioux Energy Center and began burning ultra-low sulfur coal in all for coal-fired energy centers. Further, we modified our generating units to lower nitrogen oxide emissions. These actions have positioned us well to comply with CSAPR.

Moving to Page 7, and an Illinois regulatory update. I'll remind you that each year's Illinois electric delivery earnings are a function of that years' ending rate base. The formula determined allowed return on equity, which is the annual average of 30-year U.S. treasury bond yields plus 580 basis points and ICC authorized equity ratio. Illinois formula ratemaking requires Ameren Illinois to file for annual rate updates to systematically updated cash flows over time for changes in cost of service and to true-up of any period over or under recovery of such costs. Last month, Ameren Illinois filed an update seeking a $206 million increase in electric rates reflecting 2013 actual costs, expected 2014 infrastructure investments, and changes in prior period over and under recovery balances. While the filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission would result in an increase in 2015 electric delivery service rates, total electric bills in 2015 are still expected to remain below 2011 levels for most customers. An ICC order is expected by December of this year. The new rates will be effective in January of next year. Summary of our filing is included in the appendix of this presentation. While we are on the subject of electric delivery service, I want to highlight the fact that our Illinois electric delivery customers are beginning to experience the benefits of a long-term approach to upgrading the states' electric infrastructure under the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act. Simply put, implementation of advanced technology is increasing electric system performance. We are hardening our system by installing larger poles that can withstand stronger storms. We're installing smart sensors and switches to reduce outages. Resizing transformers to meet future capacity needs for customers and construct a new overhead and underground line. Company also plans to install new advanced meters beginning in the summer of this year. Over time, these upgrades will improve service by helping Ameren Illinois detect and isolate outages faster. Customers will also have more information in new tools and programs to better manage their energy costs. All in all, we're on track to meet the performance goals of an incremental investments required by the Infrastructure Modernization Act, as well as pass the 2014 rate impact test of the act. Finally, investments in modernizing the grid are creating significant new jobs. Since January 3, 2012, these forward thinking energy policies have supported over 1,000 new jobs in Ameren Illinois service territory alone, including contract workers. These jobs are providing a needed economic boost to downstate Illinois.

Turning now to Page 8 and our FERC regulated transmission business. As we stated on our February earnings call, we currently plan to invest substantial incremental capital, $2.25 billion over the 2014 through 2018 period, given local and regional needs for transmission investment and first constructive forward-looking formula ratemaking framework. I'm pleased to report that our investment plans are proceeding as expected. In particular, I would like to update you on activities at Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois or ATXI. We are in the early stages of construction of our largest single project, an approximately $1.1 billion Illinois Rivers MISO approved, regional multi-value project. Substation construction is already underway and line construction is expected to begin later this year. We are also currently reviewing and expect to update later this year the estimated costs of this project. This estimate will incorporate the final ICC-approved route, which is somewhat longer than the originally proposed, and accommodates certain property owner and environmental concerns.

Next, I'll like to update you on ATXI's Spoon River project. The MISO approved regional multi-value transmission line between Peoria and Galesburg, Illinois that is expected to be in service by 2018. We recently held a first round of 6 open house meetings to inform area residents about the project and to receive input. The second round of open house meetings will be held in June. At which time ATXI will identify at least 2 possible routes. We plan to request a certificate of public convenience and necessity for this Spoon River project from the Illinois Commerce Commission in the third quarter of this year, and expect to receive a decision in mid-2015. Spoon River's cost is estimated at approximately $130 million to $150 million depending on the route approved by the ICC. On the transmission rate front, a complaint case challenging MISO's current allowed return on equity of 12.38% and other aspects of ratemaking are pending at FERC. Ameren Illinois and ATXI electric transmission investments are subject to this MISO allowed ROE. We continue to be actively engaged in this proceeding and strongly believe that constructive ratemaking policies within the allowed ROE level play a pivotal role in setting investment. Our 5-year investment plan clearly supports this perspective.

Well, we can't predict the ultimate outcome of this case, we believe, the FERC commissioners are committed to encouraging transmission investment. The FERC has not yet established a schedule for the MISO ROE complaint case. We expect it to first resolve the pending New England ROE complaint case, before acting on the MISO case.

Turning to Page 9. I firmly believe that Ameren is well-positioned to deliver superior value to our customers and shareholders, as we execute on our strategy of investing in and operating our utilities in a manner consistent with existing regulatory frameworks, as well as working to enhance those frameworks and advocating for responsible energy policies. Further, we're focused on creating and capitalizing on opportunities to invest in our rate regulated businesses to the benefit our customers and shareholders. As shown at the top of this page, we're allocating significant and growing amounts of discretionary capital to Ameren Illinois energy delivery in our FERC regulated energy transmission businesses because we can improve the safety and ability and sustainability of the services we provide to our customers because these businesses operate under modern, constructive regulatory frameworks. We have a solid list of transmission projects that are expected to increase our FERC-regulated transmission rate base by approximately 28% compounded annually over the 2013 to 2018 period. In addition, our Ameren Illinois investments are expected to contribute to projected Illinois electric and gas delivery rate base growth of 5% and 7%, respectively on a compound annual basis. Our 5-year outlook incorporates expected Missouri rate base growth at only a 2% compound annual rate, reflecting the need for further enhancements to the regulatory framework that reduce regulatory lag for investment.

In summary, over the next 5 years, we plan to invest almost $5 billion in the State of Illinois, consistent with our approach to strategically allocate capital to those jurisdictions that support investment and provide greater opportunities to earn fair returns on our investments, compared to approximately $3.4 billion in the state of Missouri. Putting all of this together, we continue to expect earnings per share to grow at a 7% and 10% compound annual rate from 2013 through 2018. This outlook is driven primarily by expected rate base growth of approximately 6% compounded annually from year-end 2013 to 2018, as shown at the bottom half of this page, as well as strategic capital allocation and disciplined cost management.

I'll now turn the call over to Marty for further financial update. Marty?

Martin J. Lyons

Thanks, Warner. Turning now to Page 11 of our presentation. As Warner noted, today we reported earnings for the first quarter of 2014, of $0.40 per share compared to $0.22 per share for the first quarter of 2013. Key drivers of this earnings improvement are listed on this page. First, colder winter temperatures drove higher electric and natural gas sales volumes, increasing earnings by an estimated $0.07 per share compared to the year-ago period and compared to normal temperatures. Second, increased Ameren Illinois and ATXI electric transmission revenues under FERC's formula-looking ratemaking reflecting 2014 infrastructure investments, boosted the earnings comparison by a total of $0.03 per share. Third, lower interest expense, primarily at Ameren Missouri, increased first quarter 2014 earnings by $0.03 per share compared with the first quarter of 2013. Fourth, parent and other results improved, reflecting the substantial elimination of business and administrative cost, previously incurred in support of the divested merchant generation businesses. This benefited the earnings comparison by $0.03 per share. Finally, Illinois electric delivery service earnings recognized under formula ratemaking increased $0.02 per share, reflecting 2014 infrastructure investments, and a higher allowed ROE due to increased 30-year U.S. treasury bond yields.

Moving now to Page 12. Warner already mentioned that we raised our 2014 earnings guidance to reflect the colder than normal first quarter temperatures. On this Page, we list selected items to consider, as you update your 2014 earnings models. These include the effect on earnings that a return to normal temperatures would have on this year's remaining quarters. Also, next year, Ameren's high-cost -- excuse me, next week, Ameren's high-cost $425 million parent company debt issue will mature. We plan to fund this maturity with short-term debt and expect to issue approximately $200 million to $300 million of parent company long-term debt late this year, as we continue to fund our ATXI infrastructure investment. In addition, I want to remind you that the 2013, Callaway Energy Center and nuclear fueling outage and the associated increase in operations and maintenance expenses was a second quarter event last year, but this year's refueling will take place in the fourth quarter.

Finally, second quarter 2014 earnings should benefit compared to 2013, from the absence of last year's Missouri fuel adjustment clause disallowance, while fourth quarter 2014 earnings should benefit, again compared to 2013 from the absence of last year's Illinois debt redemption cost disallowance. Of course, these are only some of the factors that will have an effect on balancing the year 2014 earnings compared to last year.

Turning finally to Page 13, I will summarize. We are executing on the well-defined strategy as mentioned by Warner. Our first quarter 2014 earnings results were strong as a result, we have raised our guidance range for this year. Our investment plan, including our strategic allocation of capital, disciplined cost control, and reduced parent company earnings drag are expected to lead earnings per share growth of 7% to 10% compounded annually from 2013 to 2018. This growth rate is better than the expected average of our regulated peers.

Further, Ameren's $1.60 per share annualized dividend rate provides investors with a yield of approximately 4%. Finally, we aspire to grow our dividend as earnings grow and expect our dividend payout ratio to be between 55% and 70% for the annual earnings.

This concludes our prepared remarks. We now invite your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question is from the line of Stephen Byrd of Morgan Stanley.

Stephen Byrd - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

I wanted to talk about transmission growth plans beyond what you already laid out, as I think you about Entergy joining MISO, and as you think about your service territory being the linkage. Could you talk about how you think about additional transmission growth plans? What would the process be, timing, et cetera for thinking through that? Is that something we should be actively thinking about?

Warner L. Baxter

Steven, this is Warner. I'll touch on some of the big picture things and then in terms of some of the timing, maybe I'll ask Maureen Borkowski, our CEO of our transmission business to step in. But a big picture, we do see opportunities for incremental investments in transmission. Certainly, as you mentioned, you look at Entergy coming into MISO and we see that there are clear opportunities there. But I wouldn't limit it to just that, I would look at the opportunities at the MISO and PJM scene, as well as between MISO and SPP and frankly, beyond that just some of our NERC liability projects. You put all those types of things together and we see over the next several years, real opportunities for growth in transmission and Maureen and her team, even today are taking steps to position ourselves to execute on investment strategy there, just as we did, frankly many years ago, to put ourselves into position we're at today to execute on the $2.25 billion that we're executing in the plan. So we absolutely -- something we should be thinking about and something we're clearly thinking about and we intend to execute on. In terms of overall timing, Maureen, I know that there is a process going up, perhaps you can fill in -- fill us in a little bit on that.

Maureen A. Borkowski

Yes, certainly from a timing perspective, all of the RTOs are engaged in implementing their post-FERC Order 1000 processes. And we've been actively engaged and participating in those, both in terms of the certification processes to participate as a transmission developer in those regions, as well as to participate in the planning process, propose projects. We've actually already been precertified by both PJM and MISO to participate in that post-FERC Order 1000 process, and we're working with Southwest Power Pool as they continue to develop their rules for certification. So we are in the development phase, I would say, at this point in time, but as Warner mentioned, those are all milestones that need to be met, and as we continue to accomplish those, we're hoping to increase that portfolio of projects.

Stephen Byrd - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Great. And shifting gears over to Missouri, clearly disappointing that the legislature didn't take action. Can you talk about what would need to happen. What would need to change in the state for there to be better appreciation for the need for more incentives to actually spend capital in the state? It sounds like other priorities really is -- you were saying Warner, sort of took higher priority this year, but just wondering what needs to change for the situation in Missouri to improve?

Warner L. Baxter

Steven, this is Warner. I think, certainly there were other priorities that the legislature took on this year. And certainly, to be clear, I mean, there certainly was some opposition by certain consumer groups that really, I would say, are taking more of a shorter term energy focus than the longer-term. So one of the things that we have been and will continue to do is continue to educate key stakeholders, not just legislators, but others around the state about the importance of solid energy policy in the state of Missouri about the importance of infrastructure investment, and not only how it's going to lead our customers' energy needs and expectations in the future, but also how we're convinced, it can drive economic development and growth. I think, a great example that would be helpful for us, so the great things that Richard Mark and his team are doing over in Illinois, in terms of using that constructive regulatory policy over there to invest in our infrastructure, helping deliver on the energy needs and expectations of customers and certainly driving job growth. So it is an educational process that we'll continue to do. It is an outreach process to legislators and key influentials, and it's important that we continue to raise the priority level of responsible energy policies in the state of Missouri. And Michael Moehn, who I know, has taken over in my role in Ameren Missouri, I know this is a top priority for he and his team and we're going to continue to be relentless in our discussions around this important energy policy in state. But, I think ultimately, is just going to continue to be working very hard to educate key stakeholders and continue to advocate for that responsible policy.

Operator

Our next question is from the line of Paul Patterson of Glenrock Associates.

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

I was wondering, if you could just give us a flavor for what the level of discretionary capital would have been if something like SB 909 had been implemented. How much more you would have been investing in Missouri and where that would have come from? It would've come from Illinois or would've been additional capital raised in the capital markets? How should we have about it?

Warner L. Baxter

Paul, I'll start with -- this is Warner. I'll start with sort of the big picture about the incremental capital we thought we could put to work and then I'll let Marty jump in terms of how we're thinking about allocation of capital. The big picture, we looked at this legislation if it would have got across the finish line. It would've given us the ability to add say, $50 million to $100 million per year of incremental discretionary capital that we could put to work. So this bill was not that we're talking about, this session was not the same bill, that we have looked at in the past, nor is it really a similar bill that it was done in Illinois, where we get more timely recovery of cost. But no matter, we could clearly have put $100 million incrementally per year in a variety of aging infrastructure projects from both the transmission distribution and generation side of our business. Marty, you want to touch a little bit about how we think about that in terms of allocation of capital?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes. Sure, Warner. Paul, as I mentioned on our last call, what we'll do to the extent that we do have incremental capital expenditure opportunities, whether they be in Missouri at some point in the future or other parts of our business, is if we clearly look at the relative returns, so we can get on various projects across the enterprise, look at our overall funding needs and also look beyond the current 5-year period as we said before to be developing sort of a pipeline of investment opportunities, rate-based growth and earnings growth opportunities beyond the 5-year period through 2018. So the opportunities present themselves, no matter where they be, we'll take a look at enterprise-wide and across not just the 5 years [indiscernible] and decide whether to fund those incrementally in the short-term or rearrange our project timing to push some of those projects out and build that pipeline for the future.

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Okay. And I guess, just to clarify this, there really was no -- you guys in your forecast previously, hadn't really baked in anything for SB 909, is that correct?

Martin J. Lyons

That's absolutely right, Paul. There was nothing baked into our capital expenditure guidance for that nor did we feel that, that was necessary in order to achieve the earnings growth targets that we provided on our last call.

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Okay, great. And then on the Noranda case, any potential for settlement or should we just expect this to be litigated like, I mean, what do you guys think?

Warner L. Baxter

Paul, this is Warner. Look at big picture, we feel 2 things about those cases. Number one, about the earnings complaint case, we don't feel it's justified for our rates to go down. So we look forward to having that discussion before the Missouri Public Service Commission team over the next several months. And then secondly, I think, we've been clear that we believe that the rate shift that Noranda is proposing is simply not in the best interest of our customers. And so as you should expect that these cases to go before the Missouri Public Service Commission over the next 7 months.

Paul Patterson - Glenrock Associates LLC

Okay. And then just finally, the FERC ROE case that you guys touched on, it looks like things are just sort of halted there. I'm just wondering, if you had any other insight or read tea leaves in any certain way about how that might -- or when something might happen there?

Maureen A. Borkowski

This is Maureen Borkowski. We really don’t have any particular insight on either what might happen with the MISO case or even watching to see what happens with the New England case. One thing I will say, we were pleased to see the renomination of commissioner LaFleur, and also watching to see what happens with the Norman Bay nomination. I certainly, think some of those things are things that need to be resolved, perhaps. But we're watching it just like you are.

Operator

Our next question is coming from the line of Julien Dumoulin-Smith with UBS.

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

So first quick question, if you will. Under the EIMA, there seems to be a certain element of inflation permissible. As we've seeing some of the commodity prices recover, how are you seeing your latitude remaining under that mechanism? And if you could remind us a bit, when do we actually kind of true that up and test that, if you will?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, sure, Julien. I think, that under the legislation coming up, actually here in July of this year, we'll be making of filing to show how our rates have been impacted in Illinois, across the board in terms of the total customer's bill. Interestingly, what's been happening since we got into the formula rates is, the major components of the customers' bill, both the power prices, as well as the delivery service components, both of those components have actually been coming down. So we've said in our prepared remarks, number one, we expect that when we present that to the ICC, which is due again on or before July 31, we're going to show a reduction for our residential customers during that period. We also had mentioned in our prepared remarks that while we did just file recently, a rate update case that will take effect early in 2015, we still believe even with that increase that the total electric bills for most of our customers will still be below the 2011 levels. So, so far so good in terms of Ameren meeting the overall test, if you will, which was a 2.5% compound annual growth rate in total bills. We're actually believe that the bills for our customers are actually down versus where we started.

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Great. I suppose, just a second question, in light of CSAPR of late, but more broadly, environmental spending, especially focusing here in Missouri at this point, how are you thinking about your exposure a, to coal ash? And then secondarily, the future around the regulations 1-hour SO2 et cetera, what kind of spend are you thinking about in the latter half of the decade, as you might tactically shift back to Missouri at some point in time?

Warner L. Baxter

Julian, this is Warner. In the bigger picture, I think that our team has done a nice job in positioning ourselves well to comply certainly with the existing environmental regulations. We're well positioned to address the MATS rules with these electrostatic precipitators and as we've said, we are well-positioned to address CSAPR. We certainly can't predict what the new rule is going to be in the future. And certainly, as the ash rules get finalized, we will obviously take the steps to comply with them. As we all know, here in June, there will be essentially proposed rules around greenhouse gas regulations. The one thing, I will say, is that we will continue to be advocating for responsible energy policies. We will take a very active role within the industry, within the state and federally trying to make sure that we have responsible energy policies that factoring the impacts on customers, the economy, and certainly environment. And so, with that, that's really how we see at as we sit here right now.

Martin J. Lyons

And Julien, the only other thing I would add is -- this is Marty, is, go ahead and take a look at the 10-K disclosures we've made and we'll update them as appropriate in the 10-Q. Though, I don't think there's anything major in terms of latter half of the decade changes in estimates for cost. So, I think, 10-K is probably the best reference in terms of some of those longer-term potential capital expenditures. And the other thing that I just remind you and everybody else is that we'll be also filing integrated resource plan in Missouri later this year in the October timeframe. And that will also be a document that you might reference in terms of thoughts on our future generations.

Julien Dumoulin-Smith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Great. And perhaps, just the last quick clarification, the last question here around Noranda settlement et cetera. How does the Noranda case ultimately, play out in terms of your own upcoming filing? Obviously, the timing of the decision relative to when you filed the Missouri case doesn't exactly coincide? Are you -- is there any potential true up or any impact at all as you think about one versus the other?

Warner L. Baxter

Julien, this is Warner. The bottom line is that, we intend to file our electric rate increase requests by July 15, and we will execute that case as planned. We will have these other proceedings going on and perhaps in parallel and perhaps they'll be consolidated at some point, we simply can't predict. But we know that we will be filing our other electric rate increase requests by mid-July.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Paul Ridzon with KeyBank.

Paul T. Ridzon - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Do you still expect kind of the merchant costs, to whittle away half of those this year?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, Paul. This is Marty. You're correct. The guidance we gave at the beginning of the year, last year we had about $0.18 of parent and other costs that was both G&A cost, as well as, parent interest cost. Our guidance at the beginning of the year was that we would expect to reduce that this year down to about $0.10 per share and we are on target to accomplish that, if not beat that slightly.

Paul T. Ridzon - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

And I know, it's less pertinent to you but what's the update on SB 702?

Warner L. Baxter

Paul, this is SB702. This is the property in transmission cost trackers that's what you are referring to?

Paul T. Ridzon - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Yes, yes.

Warner L. Baxter

So the update is as follows, that bill has been passed in a bit different, but a similar conceptual bill from the house has been passed by 2 committees. The energy committees, both in the Senate and the House. And so it has not received floor debate, and as we said, we're both coming up to the end of session. So while not impossible for that bill to still get potential have passage. Obviously, as each day goes by it become more challenging.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line Michael Lapides from Goldman Sachs.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

I have -- I wanted us -- I have a couple of questions, first on Missouri. Can you talk about, the rate base in Missouri that is being mentioned in the 2 cases that are outstanding in the complaint in the earnings -- the rate design case and the earnings complaint case versus the amount of rate base addition that might be included in a filing, I'm thinking the work at Labadie, the reactor vessel head that you mentioned at the beginning of the call? I'm just kind of trying to get a picture of how much incremental rate base that is? And I know that's capital spend you've probably, previously disclosed, I'm just not sure any of the offsets.

Warner L. Baxter

Michael, this is Warner. I'll try and take a high-level shot. Because the fact of the matter, the specific rate base in the earnings complaint case is still, I would say, a moving target. It is -- no one really knows the specific rate base. I think they're ultimately be the final last year and true up period is still under discussion. So we really don't have that. In terms of the rate design case, rate base may not be as critical discussion as it would be in the other earnings case. But I would say is this, as we've talked about in our talking points, just in terms of incremental capital additions, I mentioned 3 -- that are a few that are out there. Number one is the Callaway, the reactor vessel head at Callaway. The precipitators that are taking place at our Labadie Energy Center. We have a new solar energy facility, which will be coming on in the second half of the year. And then, we've added 2 new substations downtown. Those projects alone and I'm not talking about the rest of our projects, they alone are about $370 million. And so, then you can look at some of the other disclosures that we had in the past in terms of our rate base may be growing. But those are just some meaningful projects that whether they'll, a piece of those will be included in this rate base, but certainly they'll be included in our rate case, that was filed in July.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

And the best way to think about what you'll file in July is you'll use kind of a ending near 2014 rate base because you can -- because you're doing a mid-year filing the known and measurable process, let's you kind of true that up.

Martin J. Lyons

Yes. And that's right. We will do a known and measurable process. And historically, which you typically see as a true up of about 6 months post that test year. And so obviously, when we think about filing rate cases, we factor all those elements into our thinking including meaningful rate base additions. And so that's all part of the effective managing of these process from our view.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Got it. 1 or 2 other items, on the Illinois side, we've seen a -- I mean, the broader markets have seen a pretty decent downdraft from kind of the highs in terms of where the 10-year treasury was and where that 30-year treasury yield was. Can you talk about just the earnings sensitivity in Illinois to changes in the 30-year treasury?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes. Michael, this is Marty. The -- one of the -- the best way of thinking about it is we talked before about 50 basis points in Illinois is about $0.025 per share of those electric delivery earnings. And I think, that's probably the best thing to think about. Something coming in into this year with respect to the ROE, we will affect sort of the formula midpoint at about [indiscernible] percent, which is what we were expecting a 30-year treasury of about 4.1%. And as we sit here now and based on as we look at our guidance, given that treasury -- I think 30-year treasuries plus [indiscernible] as of May 1, we're thinking it could be a little lower than 4.8%, maybe around 3.8%, which would give us an ROE of about 9.6%. So if that 9.6% versus the 9.9% expected, I mean again, that's probably about $0.015 of earnings right there, if that holds.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Got it. And one last... .

[Audio Gap]

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Not a big number?

Martin J. Lyons

Not a big number.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Okay. And then, just one last question, I'm trying to think through O&M over the next couple of years. Callaway outage in 2014, no Callaway outage in '15, but one in, I guess, like, if you are on a 18-month cycle or a 20-month cycle that would imply like second quarter-ish, first quarter-ish 2016. Do you incur all of the O&M still in the quarter incurred or is there some amortization, meaning, would 2015 benefit because there is no Callaway outage O&M in 2015, but then you'd have it back in '16?

Martin J. Lyons

Michael, absolutely. That is [indiscernible]-- this fourth quarter of this year, we actually have another about $0.06 cost for Callaway refueling. Next year we would not expect to incur those costs. So there is no amortization of the actual costs. We end up reflecting those and incurring them in the quarter that they occur. From time to time, and I'm not currently giving out the 2015 guidance, but we certainly think about our outage schedules with respect to our other fossil-fired generating units too though, as we think about year changes in O&M. So and there is some variability there.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Got it. Okay. And one final one on the Illinois Rivers, how significant was the route change? I'm just trying to think about what kind of directionally, what the capital spending change could potentially be when you refile?

Martin J. Lyons

Well, it's not going to be necessary to refile. But we will provide you what we are basically saying on the call is that as we go through the year at some point we'll give some updated guidance on CapEx. And just wanted you all to know, we were looking at the overall final project plan, timing and capital expenditures for that project. Overall, as Warner mentioned in this talking points, the route was call it marginally longer. There were numerous angles that were in the final plan to accommodate property owners and avoid environmentally sensitive areas. So in all of those things, we do think put some modest upward pressure on the total cost of the project. But as I said again, we are working through the final project plans, capital expenditure amounts and timing, and as I said, I think in response to a question earlier, what we do then, is we'll step back and look at our overall Ameren-wide capital spending plans, and allocate capital as we feel appropriate.

Michael J. Lapides - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Okay. And can you remind us, what would be original capital for that project and what was the length of the original plan, meaning mileage?

Martin J. Lyons

I don't think, I have the length of the original plan, but the -- the cost estimates you see in our slides, have not been changed. So the cost estimates that you have in the slides are the same costs and estimates that we provided historically. And we're just simply saying that we do expect to be some moderate upward pressure on those cost estimates. And we'll provide updates later on. But I don't have the exact change in the miles, but the miles were an impact, but also like I said, twists and turns to avoid certain properties also had an impact.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] The next question is from the line of Carl Seligson of Utility Financial.

Carl Seligson

Curious -- weather was beneficial in the quarter, as you say by $0.07. You raised the guidance for the year by a $0.05. What bunch of other things -- look, most of which are positive, this year versus last year for the next 3 quarters. What's going on that's going to go bad and keep that large range for your guidance?

Martin J. Lyons

Carl, this is Marty. Thanks for the question. When you look at those various drivers for the quarter, they were positive versus the prior year. Many of those though were right in line with our expectations, when we put out the guidance. So the first one, the temperatures was really the one that was unexpected and drove electric margins about $0.05 higher and gas margins about $0.02 higher. So the weather clearly had a benefit. When we think about the guidance for the year, which we started at $0.20, and we're still at $0.20. It's important, obviously to remember that the bulk of our earnings come in the third quarter of the year. So we've got a long way to go here for the remainder of the year, both in terms of calendar months, but also in terms of where the bulk of our earnings really come from. So in thinking about it, while weather benefited us $0.07, and we are raising our guidance about $0.05. There are obviously in a forecast, there are always things if you move through time, that would change either plus or minus in terms of a little bit of a negative, certainly talked about 30-year treasuries earlier on the call, which, if our updated treasury forecast holds, probably, cost us may be $0.015 or so versus our initial expectations. Then again, we're doing well in terms of reducing the parent and other costs, expected do well in terms of refinancing of that parent company debt, we probably picked up about $0.015 there that much -- so it's interesting about interest rates, it kind of cut both ways for us in terms of savings on the refinancings. It's a benefit. We -- when we mentioned sales, when we did look at our Q1 sales frankly absent weather normalization. There were actually a little better than expected. So taking credit for that, but not really changing the balance of the year expectations. It probably picked up about a $0.01 there, and then we lost a little bit and the expectation of a higher effective tax rate. So those things we didn't all call out, there are a bunch of pluses and minuses that are a $0.01 here or a $0.01 there. Again, weather was a big benefit, it upped our guidance and the guidance range simply reflects we got a long way to go this year.

Carl Seligson

Okay. And given the breadth of the range hopefully, you'll tighten that up a little bit, perhaps at the next quarter?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, historically -- we will continue to evaluate. I think, historically, maybe we tightened it up a little after the second quarter, but really, as I said before, the third quarter is where the bulk of the earnings come. But pretty significantly after the third quarter.

Operator

Our next question is from the line of David Paz of Wolfe Research.

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

Sorry, if I missed this earlier. What was your -- I think, you just touched on this Marty, what was your weather adjusted sales growth by segment?

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, I didn't go through that in any details. In response to last question, I simply kind of mentioned it. But I think, I'll go ahead and go through it in some detail if you like. I'd remind you that coming into the year, we did expect the residential and commercial sales would be down about a full percent and industrial down about 0.7%. And remind you that 1% decline in residential and commercial, really, we expect that to be driven by significant investment in energy efficiency in Missouri, as well as just sort of national energy efficiency lighting standards. For the quarter, our heating degree days were up about 19% compared to last year at about 26% compared to normal. And as I said on the call, we estimate both of those had an impact about $0.07, about $0.07 positive compared to normally and compared to the prior year. And when we weather normalize, our residential and commercial sales, there actually up about 0.8%. Illinois was really driving that Illinois residential and commercial sales up, while Missouri was down, which certainly our expectation they would be, given some of the energy efficiency spending. So -- but, I would say, overall and what I said in the last Q&A, was that, that was better performance, I would say, in terms of sales growth both in Illinois and Missouri than had been expected, despite Missouri being down, it was just down less than expected. Absent the impacts of the energy efficiency programs in Missouri, which is I mentioned, I think, I mentioned on the prior call, we gave recovery and are basically made whole of the impacts on energy efficiency investment in Missouri. We actually estimated, excluding those impacts of energy efficiency. So both weather normalizing and stripping out impacts of weather energy efficiency, the residential and commercial sales in Missouri also would've been up, maybe 0.5% or so across the residential and commercial class. So overall, David, I think, it was a positive. As I said in the last response, though, as I think for the remainder of year, we're going to continue take a cautious approach. And take credit for the good performance here in Q1. But not really raise our expectations for the remainder of the year. I guess, a couple of other comments in the sales area, I remind you last year sales in that residential and commercial were up about 0.6%, which was good. Our customer accounts in Q1, were up about 0.3% in residential and commercial. So there are some good signs there and we'll continue to watch that. In terms of industrial sales, again, Missouri was up, which was positive. We saw that last year. We saw about 0.3% of increase. Nothing huge, but nonetheless, a little bit of positive growth in Missouri, which was great. Illinois, as I mentioned on our last call, we continue to see the industry struggling there, where we saw our industrial sales down about 2.6%. So that's kind of an update, unless you want more in terms of what we saw in terms of sales?

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

I got a follow-up off line. And I'll just had a couple of quick ones. I understand your rate cases in Missouri are based on historical test year. I just wanted you to confirm that sales are weather normalized in rate cases correct?

Martin J. Lyons

Absolutely, yes.

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

And I presume, there'll be the same in the over -- pending overearnings complaints?

Martin J. Lyons

Well, again, that we will see how that proceeding plays out. But absolutely, we believe that in the process of setting rates, sales levels should be normalized for weather.

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

Great. And then just your coal stockpiles, I'm just curious what they're looking like right now as we head shoulder, or I guess, we're in the shoulder season.

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, I would say that we don't typically give out our exact coal pile levels, but....

David A. Paz - Wolfe Research, LLC

Are they normal, about normal.

Martin J. Lyons

Yes, I would say that they're normal.

Operator

I will now like to turn the call to Mr. Fischer for closing comments.

Douglas Fischer

I want to thank each of you for participating in this call. Let me remind you again, that a replay of the call will be available for 1-year on our website. If You have questions, you can call the contacts listed on today's release. Financial analyst inquiries should be directed to me, Doug Fischer or my associate Matt Thayer. Media should call Joe Muehlenkamp. Our contact numbers are on today's news release. Again, I thank you for your interest in Ameren, and have a great day.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes today's teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. We thank you for your participation.

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