In January of 2009 the utility company Ameren UE brought a proposal to the Missouri legislature that would overturn an important consumer protection law and allow them to charge customers upfront for the cost of constructing a $6 billion nuclear power plant. The proposal shifted most of the risk away from the company and its investors and placed it on Missouri ratepayers.
Ameren UE was putting a substantial effort behind their bill and most thought it would pass both houses of the legislature easily. In the fight against the legislation, Missourians Against Higher Utility Rates enlisted the help of Front Porch Strategies and their state-of-the-art phone technologies.
Front Porch Strategies put together a campaign plan that identified supportive constituents in targeted legislative districts, educated that group of people, and mobilized them to contact their legislators over the phone. The campaign started as the bill debated in a senate committee, and eventually made its way out of committee and onto the senate floor for debate. Front Porch Strategies waged a three-step campaign for both the committee hearings and the floor debate.
The first step was to conduct an automated identification (ID) survey. Survey work identified the position of over 8,000 people during the committee battle, and over 17,000 people during the floor battle. The next step was conducting large telephone town hall meetings to further educate this same group of constituents. The first town hall meeting had 3,800 attendees and the second had over 10,000 attendees. Finally, the day before the bill was up for discussion, Front Porch Strategies initiated a series of Patch Through Calls aimed at targeted legislators. A Patch Through Call is an automated phone call that gives the person on the other line the ability to press “1” and be transfer directly to their legislators office after hearing a brief message from the campaign.
As a result of this campaign Front Porch Strategies successfully patched through 4,357 constituents into legislative offices. These constituents urged their elected officials to vote against raising the electric rates.
The outcome: While the bill initially had very high prospects for sailing through both chambers of the Missouri legislature, Ameren UE found their bill stalled in the Senate after days of constituent complaints and filibustering by Senators opposed to the rate hike. Ameren UE ended up completely dropping their legislative campaign, choosing not to bring the House version of the bill to the floor for a vote.
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