This Week in the Missouri PSC: Sept. 6, 2017

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The weekly meeting of the Missouri Public Service Commission saw just five orders before the commission this Wednesday.

The first tariff and new order presented before the commission concerned the working case concerning emerging issues on utility regulation.

The order put before the PSC on Wednesday was the third version of a draft seeking responses regarding the distributing energy resource issues and scheduling a workshop meeting.

This set of issues is directly related to an Organization of MISO States (OMS) workshop conducted in Madison, Wisconsin in July of 2017, and is also a follow-up of a PSC workshop from May 18 and a report issued after that workshop.

“This is clearly a growing and developing issue in the MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) footprint, and I believe it is soon to be developing in the SPP (Southwest Power Pool) footprint as well,” Chairman Daniel Hall said. “This is of critical importance and I look forward to examining the responses to this request for information.”

Hall also noted that he believes that most of the other states involved in the MISO program would be doing similar inquiries in their respective states.

The commission approved the order with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

The second item of the day concerned a motion by the PSC staff for a protective order in the case involving Laclede Gas’ request to increase its revenues for gas service.

At issue was a data request from the Department of Economic Development’ Division of Energy, in which they asked for copies of all customer inquiries and complaints concerning Laclede during the period in which the current rates have been in effect. The Division of Energy requested that any personally-identifiable or customer-specific information be redacted from the given data.

The PSC staff had previously objected to the request, which was sustained by the Regulatory Law judge. The Division of Energy modified their request to meet a more agreeable term, but the issue still remains that it would require the redacting of information from several thousand pages. Instead, the staff asked the commission to allow them to release the information under a protective order that keeps the recipient from further releasing the information. It also requires the destruction of the copies at the close.

The commission did approve the measure, 4-1, with Commissioner Stephen Stoll dissenting. Most of the commissioners agreed that caution is needed when dealing with matters of a person’s information, and also agreed that more time should be spent looking into this kind of issue in the future.

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The final three orders of the day all dealt with the Missouri-American Water Company (MAWC). Two of the orders dealt in particular with Missouri-American’s request for an Accounting Authority Order (AAO).

The company says that an AAO will allow it to track the annual increase in property taxes for St. Louis and Platte Counties between 2016 and 2017.

Missouri-American requested an AAO and motion for the waiver of the 60-day notice requirement, which can be waived “if good cause is shown.”

MAWC argued that the company first became aware of a property tax issue at the end of May 2017, saying they tried to resolve the tax dispute with the counties in June.

They said that after that, it became clear that those discussions would not be successful, and decided to pursue an AAO, saying that a delay “may affect the accounting treatment of the company’s 2017 earnings.”

The PSC approved that order with a 5-0 vote.

They also approved a schedule setting an evidentiary hearing as follows:

  • Direct Testimony (MAWC) – September 11, 2017
  • Data Request Response Time Becomes 10 Days/ 5 Days to Object  – September 11, 2017
  • Rebuttal Testimony (Staff, OPC, Intervenors) – October 13, 2017
  • Data Request Response Time Becomes 5 Days/ 3 Days to Object – October 13, 2017
  • Surrebuttal Testimony – All Parties – October 25, 2017
  • List of Issues, Order of Cross, etc. – October 27, 2017
  • Statement of Positions – October 30, 2017
  • Evidentiary Hearing – November 7, 8, 9, 2017
  • Initial Post-Hearing Briefs – November 22, 2017
  • Reply Briefs – December 1, 2017

The final order of the day concerned Missouri-American Water Company’s request for the authority to implement a general rate increase. MAWC had submitted a separate proposed procedural schedule and would have required other parties to submit responses on MAWC’s direct testimony to their direct testimony instead of being in rebuttal.

The PSC agreed to deny that motion, with Chairman Hall saying: “This case clearly is going to have some difficult issues, some very fact-intensive issues that will require a lot of very careful analysis, and I agree that it is not appropriate to combine the testimony.”

The PSC’s next meeting is scheduled for Tues, Sept. 19, with the next week’s agenda meeting being canceled.

  

Benjamin Peters

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.

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