This Week in the Missouri PSC: July 11, 2018

Wind farm coming to southeast Missouri called a "win"

  

PSC signs off on Empire’s wind farm project

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A newly approved order from the Missouri Public Service Commission will allow a Joplin-based utility company to build a 600-megawatt wind farm in southwest Missouri.

The PSC’s decision, issued Wednesday, approved a non-unanimous settlement agreement, allowing Empire Electric to put into use various regulatory measures to add the new power source for the service of customers utilizing a renewable energy source.

“This is not only a win for renewable energy,” Renew Missouri’s Executive Director James Owen said, “this is a win for the local economy in Southwest Missouri. More and more, large companies are basing their decision on locating to areas where they have access to sustainable energy. We have seen businesses invest in neighboring states like Iowa – where the government and utilities have committed to wind power production – while leaving Missouri in the dust.”

The decision, Owen added, will hopefully begin to move Missouri into becoming more economically advantageous.

The agreed upon deal will keep open a coal plant in southwest Missouri, which the original plan had called for the shutting down of. Renew Missouri supports the use of renewable resources to move to clean power, but said they recognized that “there were some parties that insisted on keeping this open even though the wind farm would more than compensate for any job losses.”

“This is still a plus for the state, and that’s what matters to us.”

The commission approved the order with a 5-0 vote, meaning that Empire is authorized to record its capital investment to acquire wind generation assets as utility plant in service subject to audit in Empire’s next general rate case, utilizing a 3.33 percent depreciation rate for all wind project asset accounts, with an effective date of Aug. 10.

The PSC also signed off on the opening of three new working cases. The first of these is a case to consider a new rule for affiliate transactions as they deal with small water and sewer corporations. Parties have until Aug. 10 to respond to the draft rule, which could lead to a formal rulemaking process starting at a later date.

“We certainly do need an affiliate transaction rule with these small water and sewer companies, and it definitely needs to be different from larger utilities,” Chairman Daniel Hall said.

The order was approved with a 5-0 vote.

The second case concerned a rule dealing with the treatment of customer information. The current rule regarding that subject is contained within the affiliate transaction rule, which only applies to certain utilities, this would apply to all, as Hall explained. It also received a 5-0 vote.

The third order for a working case considering and reviewing the rules regarding affiliate transactions for utilities with more than 8,000 customers. It was also approved 5-0.

The final order of the commission for the day was to deny a complaint made by Gene Dudley against KCPL, saying he had failed to show that the company had committed a violation in the matter of his outstanding balance and that KCPL may proceed under the law with his account as they see fit.

The commission also heard presentations from Spire and Ameren on the matter of low-income customer bases.

The next hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 19, at 9:30 a.m.

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.