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PSC approves evidentiary hearing dates in Great Plains merger case


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission continued their work this week in their mission to expedite the process in the matter of Great Plains’ acquisition of Westar.

Having received Great Plains’ application two weeks ago, the commission sought to find available dates to allow the process to continue in hopes of quickly resolving the matter.

On Wednesday, the PSC approved a procedural schedule, setting an evidentiary hearing date to run from April 5 through April 7. The PSC also waived the 60-day notice requirement in an effort to expedite the case.

The Commission also granted applications to intervene from Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, Inc (KEPCO) and the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The PSC also acted on several orders concerning Kansas City Power & Light (KCPL), approving their application to modify their demand-side programs.

The request asked for approval from the commission to revise the company’s Technical Resource Manual (TRM) and add new program measure incentive ranges while changing some previously-approved program measures’ incentive ranges.

The PSC also voted on two orders approving stipulations and agreements regarding KCPL’s rate case. The case presented before them on Wednesday involved 19 discreet issues, coming to a settlement that would give the company $1.14 million out of about $10 million, based on a return on equity (ROE). Chairman Daniel Hall called the resolution reasonable, saying that it had alleviated some of his questions and concerns. They also approved an order in the same issue, the only difference being it was applied to pensions and post-employee benefit costs. Both were approved unanimously, 5-0.

The commission also approved another agreement and stipulation, this one in Ameren’s rate case, with Hall noting that the issue in the previous discussions was also the ROE, as each different party would come to a slightly different number based on their different priorities in terms of value. The current ROE range runs from 9.2 to 9.7.

Wednesday’s agreement authorizes Ameren Missouri to increase annual electric operating revenues by approximately $92 million, effective April 1, 2017. The average residential customer could see an increase of roughly $3.70. Per the agreement, Ameren can adjust customer bills up to three times a year to reflect any changes in fuel or power costs.

When Ameren Missouri filed its rate request on July 2016, it initially asked for $206.4 million, citing costs for capital investments and reduced revenues . Since then, the Office of the Public Counsel, the PSC Staff, Ameren Missouri, Renew Missouri, Sierra Club, and Missouri Division of Energy, along with other stakeholders, worked towards a settlement that would protect customers with renewable energy and encourage residential customers to use less energy.“A ROE is used to set a revenue requirement,” Hall said. “You can’t take a revenue requirement and reverse-engineer a ROE from that.”

“A ROE is used to set a revenue requirement,” Hall said. “You can’t take a revenue requirement and reverse-engineer a ROE from that.”

“I think it’s important that we include at least a range when we conclude a rate case. That’s important for transparency purposes. The range we have is close to what I would’ve liked, I would have liked it to be a little more narrow, but I’m satisfied that it’s close enough for government work,” Hall said, receiving a few chuckles from the room.

Hall did note that, during his time with the PSC, this may have been the first time he had seen a case of that magnitude had been resolved and settled so early in the process. The commission approved the order, 5-0.

The next item on the docket was Ameren’s application for continued authority to transfer functional control of a transmission system to Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO). Last week, the commission discussed the issue at hand, whether they should be allowed to extend the time to do the cost-benefit analysis for their participation in MISO. Though some of the commission had some reservations about the issue, all five voted in favor of the order.