This Week in the Missouri PSC: February 7, 2018

  

Commission signs off on several KCPL items, agrees to revisit Spire rate case next week

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Seven items appeared before the commission in this week’s agenda meeting, though little debate was needed from the commissioners on most.

After approving the minutes from the previous week, and welcoming Aaron Willard as Commissioner Ryan Silvey’s new advisor, the commission got to work, taking up the first item of the afternoon: KCPL’s application asking for the authority to issue debt securities, in an amount up to $750 million. With a 5-0 vote, the order takes effect on Feb. 25.

The second order involved KCPL’s rate case. With a 5-0 vote, the PSC will suspend the tariff sheets, giving notice of a contested case, and delegating authority. With the suspension, the commission will receive more time to evaluate the tariffs, which are seeking a 1.88 percent revenue increase in the amount of $16.4 million. KCPL GMO will seek a 2.61 percent increase in the amount of $19.3 million.

Chairman Daniel Hall said it was a very typical process at the beginning of rate cases, and the commission approved the order.

The PSC also denied a motion by the Office of Public Counsel to dismiss the Public Funding Corporation of the City of Ozark’s application to sell its water system. OPC had contended that the PSC did not have jurisdiction.

“I do not agree with that interpretation,” Hall said.

The Missouri Public Service Commission also approved KCP&L-Greater Missouri Operations’ request to change the fuel adjustment charge (FAC) on the monthly bills of its electric customers. For a residential customer using 1,000 kWh a month, the FAC will increase by approximately $0.80 a month, from approximately $0.46 a month to $1.26 a month.  The change will take effect on March 1.

The commission also approved an order overturning the North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s decision, allowing Windstream Missouri to obtain a location routing number and a block of one thousand numbers to support the deployment of a Connect America project.

“One of these days, we are going to deny these, but today is not that day,” Commissioner Scott Rupp said, receiving a chuckle from the room.

The commission also signed off on a rulemaking item, putting in place a staff-assisted process to make things easier for small water and sewer companies in their rate case filings, while also signing off on a 73 page order encapsulating decisions made by the commission in case discussions concerning Indian Hills’ rate increase request over the last month.

Hall and the commissioners all agreed that it was a difficult case, but applauded the companies that take on projects like the one in this instance for despite the risks.

The commissioners did say that the financing of this was very difficult to get to a level of comfort with their structure and the subsequent effects it would have on customers, but it was approved with a 4-0-1 vote, with Silvey abstaining.

The final item on the agenda was case discussion in the matter of Spire’s rate case, particularly the effects the new tax cuts would have.

The commissioners agreed to back Chairman Hall’s proposal in that regard, which would place trackers on the savings, ADIT, and 2018 increased property taxes.

They acknowledged that next week would require more discussion, saying they intended to revisit the issue of capital structure as well as some others.

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.