PSC compels Empire to fulfill OPC data requests

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – This week’s meeting of the Missouri Public Service Commission only featured two tariffs and new orders.

The PSC on Wednesday approved an agreement authorizing Laclede Gas Company, to adjust their infrastructure system replacement surcharge (ISRS) on the bills of their natural gas customers for both Laclede Gas and Missouri Gas Energy (MGE).

The ISRS adjustment reflects infrastructure replacement investments made by the parent company since November 1, 2016, and the costs for natural gas pipeline replacements and relocations are not currently included in the company’s rates.

Customers of MGE are expected to see an increase from the current $1.97 a month to $2.41 a month. Residential customers of Laclede will see a raise from $3.57 to $3.94 a month, both effective June 1, 2017.

MGE provides natural gas to roughly 500,000 customers in Missouri, Laclede serves 647,200 customers in St. Louis and customers in St. Louis, St. Charles, Butler, Iron, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Crawford, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.

The PSC also ruled on the matter of data requests by the Office of Public Counsel. OPC filed nine data requests, seeking information from The Empire District Electric Company. Empire responded to the motion on April 21 but refused to respond to two of the requests.

The first data request to which Empire indicated it has not fully responded is DR 1318. That data request asks that Empire “please arrange a meeting between Empire personnel and OPC personnel during the week of April 24-28 2017. 1) OPC would like to review the minutes of Liberty and Empire Board of Director meetings in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. 2) OPC would like to meet with Empire’s fuel procurement personnel to discuss fuel procurement policies and procedures. 3) OPC would like to meet with Empire’s natural gas hedging personnel to discuss Empire’s natural gas hedging policies and procedures, including details surrounding how and why Empire decides to purchase specific financial hedges. 4) OPC would like to review a copy of each and every report, analysis, memo or similar communication between ABB and Empire in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.”

Empire said they had responded to the first three parts, but not the fourth, contending that the request to review every “report, analysis, memo or similar communication between ABB and Empire in 2014-2015, 2016 and 2017” is overbroad in both scope and timeframe.

Commissioner Daniel Hall asked for an amendment to the order, which would give Empire a chance to explain why the request is unduly burdensome by Friday, April 28.

They also argued the same for the other item, DR 8500 which asks that Empire “provide an explanation of why the monthly heat rate information provided as part of prudence audit data requests are on average higher than the efficiency test results provided in rate cases.” Empire objected, saying that data request is vague, overbroad and seeks irrelevant information.

The PSC granted OPC’s request, compelling Empire to provide the data by May 1.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.