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This Week in the PSC: October 30, 2019

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Public Service Commission (PSC) denied Evergy’s request for a rehearing regarding the accounting authority order issued in mid-October

The accounting authority order required Evergy to set up a regulatory liability account for revenue and returns from a coal plant in Sibley it is shuttering. As KCP&L merged with Westar Energy earlier this year, the plant falls under the Evergy umbrella. 

What to do with the money in the liability account will be decided during a future rate case, the PSC ordered. Evergy officials have warned the order would deter investors in Missouri and have financial ramifications on the company. 

A rehearing can be granted by the commission if “in its judgment sufficient reason therefore be made to appear,” according to the order. Although it said Evergy submitted a rehearing application in a “timely” manner, it was still unanimously denied during the commission’s weekly agenda meeting Wednesday. 

The PSC approved the Oct. 17 order in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Bill Kenney as the lone dissenting vote. He sided with the denial of the rehearing application.  

Additionally — during the lengthy meeting Wednesday — the commission approved a stipulation in a 4-1 vote regarding Spire Missouri’s request to change its Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) for its east and west territories. The order established Spire is able to recover ISRS revenues in the amount of $4,763,180 for its east service territory and $3,996,543 for its west service territory. 

Commissioner Daniel Hall supported the order but called for a legislative change to update the ISRS process. 

“I think we need to get the ISRS statute updated to accommodate the engineering and financial realities of today,” Hall said. 

Commissioner Scott Rupp opposed the order because he’s “fundamentally been opposed to the policy of denying the recovery of the plastic pipe,” he said. 

Commissioners also directed Staff to prepare a complaint regarding any alleged violations regarding Spire Missouri due to a “natural gas safety incident” in Kansas City. The complaint will allow the commission to consider properly a stipulation and agreement from Spire to resolve the issues raised. 

The PSC granted approval for an indirect merger by stock acquisition from AIP Project Franklin Bidco, Inc.; Veolia Energy North America Holdings, Inc.; Thermal North America Holdings, Inc.; Veolia Energy Missouri, Inc.; and Veolia Energy Kansas City, Inc. AIP Project Franklin Bidco, Inc. is to acquire 100 percent of the issued and outstanding common stock of the companies from Veolia Energy North America Holdings, Inc.

Veolia is a public entity that provides steam and heat services in downtown Kansas City, the commission noted. 

The commission also approved Ameren’s request for a waiver of certain meter testing requirements because of its planned deployment of Automated Metering Infrastructure in 2020. PSC Chairman Ryan Silvey said it would be a “waste of resources” for Ameren to test meters that will soon be replaced. 

Commissioners unanimously denied two Staff motions seeking to remove Midwest Energy Consumers Group (MECG) as a party in the matters of Empire District Electric Company’s 2019 triennial compliance filing and the approval of a cost allocation manual from Empire District Electric Company, Empire District Gas Company, Liberty Utilities (Midstates Natural Gas), and Liberty Utilities (Missouri Water).

The commission approved orders establishing contemporary resource issues from a handful of utility companies Wednesday: Empire District Electric, Evergy Missouri West, Evergy Missouri Metro, and Ameren. Commissioners noted the analyses are not meant to be costly.

The requested information includes an analysis of things such as green tariffs and community solar to increase the availability of distributed generation, electric vehicle charging infrastructure as a candidate resource option, and renewable energy and battery storage as an alternative to existing coal-fired generation — and more. 

The PSC’s Cold Weather Rule — mandating natural gas and electric utilities under its jurisdiction cannot disconnect heat-related services when the temperature is expected to drop below 32 degrees during the following 24 hour period, among other things — went into effect on Nov. 1. It will remain in effect through the end of March.