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PSC approves Ameren Missouri grid investment with eye towards the future

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) on Wednesday approved five new orders and tariffs in a 10-minute period, one of which granted a 2.8 percent rate increase for Ameren Missouri.

Ameren Missouri filed the tariff to recover the cost of its Cycle 2 Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA) programs, which runs from March 1, 2016, through February 28, 2019.

The proposed rate increase is estimated to raise consumer’s bills $3.03 per month, but the commission made sure to note that the increase now should lead to savings later.

“Over the term of the investment in energy efficiency, the customers will save more money in the long run,” Commissioner Stephen Stoll said. “I think that’s important for customers to know because we do this in order to help customers save money in the long run because it will forego an investment in a new power plant or whatever else.”

Under the order’s language, the rate increase would take effect on January 26.

The commission also approved AT&T’s request to relinquish its ETC designation and its withdrawal from the voluntary state Lifeline and Disabled programs, saying they had shown that another provider was already in place, meeting the requirements.

The second item on the agenda was quickly decided. It concerned a complaint filed against Ameren by a Diamond Snider regarding charges and the shutoff of services. Ameren had motioned for a dismissal, saying the issues had been resolved. The commission attempted to reach out to the complainant but never received any response, so the case was dismissed.

The PSC also approved a tariff that would grant a change of electric supplier for certain customers in Taney County. White River services the locations in question, but Empire District Electric Company serves the surrounding area. A developer requested that White River remove their line, as it interferes with development plans. Both companies agreed and filed a joint application allowing for the change, which the commission granted unanimously.

Before moving onto case discussions, the commission approved a request from Ameren to grant a waiver in the filing of their triennial IRP filing.

The final case discussion concerned Laclede Gas Company’s application to change its infrastructure system replacement surcharge.

The main issue brought forward was simply whether the case was appropriately brought before the PSC in the first place. The commission agreed that it would continue hearing the case.

Laclede filed for a dismissal in the case, saying that the Missouri Office of Public Counsel (OPC) didn’t file their objections within the 60-day period time frame for staff.

“I don’t believe that the statutory 60-day requirement applies to OPC,” Chairman Daniel Hall said. “There’s also no order by the commission that would require them to file within 60 days.”

Hall said he found it interesting that both parties took contrary positions, saying both OPC and Laclede both were being inconsistent.

“What I would recommend going forward is that in our procedural orders, we expressly require OPC to file their objections within a certain number of days of the staff report.”

The commission finished their meeting with a presentation from Ron Edelstein of the Gas Technology Institute, concerning Missouri natural gas customer needs.

That presentation may be found here.