Press "Enter" to skip to content

PSC allows remote testimony in Evergy case


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) dismissed an objection to virtual testimony in an Evergy Missouri West case. 

The company is involved in an ongoing conflict with a customer. Evergy requested permission for a witness in the case to testify via phone or video conference program in an upcoming hearing due to family members at high risk for COVID-19, which the plaintiff objected to. She argued there was no guarantee that the witness would not be coached behind the scenes by an Evergy employee. 

Staff and the commission said remote testimony had been used in a number of cases, including before the pandemic began. (The PSC is also holding its weekly agenda meetings remotely instead of in the Governor Office Building in downtown Jefferson City.) The PSC approved Evergy’s request, allowing remote testimony in deference to health concerns.

The commission also rejected concerns raised by the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) over Empire District Electric Company’s tariff sheets. OPC argued the company’s filing still retained clarity issues despite numerous orders from the commission to clear up the language. The filing pointed to a section outlining the allocation of funds as unclear, speculating that the company mixed up two programs in its explanation. 

The commission dismissed OPC’s objection and — finding no further issues with the company’s filing — approved the tariff sheets. 

Empire was involved in another agenda item Wednesday alongside Liberty Utilities. The companies and their related utility providers filed to use the umbrella name “Liberty” last month for their operations. Staff found the companies had failed to submit all the necessary documentation to adopt the name and requested the filing of additional paperwork and a suspension of the name change for 30 days — which the commission approved.

The PSC agreed to grant Ameren Missouri financing authority over its wind energy investments. The company asked to issue up to $550 million in bonds and other forms of secured indebtedness in order to partially finance its wind power facilities. Commission Staff agreed to the request, requiring reports to the commission on issuances and a schedule for capitalizing on debts. The commission approved the company’s request with Staff’s conditions attached and a one-year sunset on issuing debts. 

The next agenda meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16. Commissioners said they will continue to meet remotely for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.