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PSC approves waivers for Spire over COVID-19 delays


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Spire Missouri was approved for waivers — with stipulations — pertaining to safety inspections and more due to COVID-19 limitations by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Thursday.

Spire had requested a waiver to the commission’s gas safety rules in May, stating it had not been able to perform the necessary safety inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff had agreed to the waiver while seeking additional clarifications on Spire’s request. 

Spire and Staff both submitted responses and recommendations. Staff’s latest response requested Spire submit a list of the ways it had been unable to comply with commission rules, identify which facilities could be safely inspected, increase public awareness of delays, and complete necessary inspections by the beginning of 2021. 

Spire also requested an allowance to prioritize the late surveys prior to its Dec. 31 deadline, which the PSC agreed to.

Spire noted it had experienced delays in inspecting corrosion areas and steel replacements. Staff agreed to similar waivers regarding these issues — with the same deadline and stipulations — and required the replacement of a set of unprotected steel mains by the end of May 2021. The PSC approved Staff’s recommendations and the waivers.

The Spire case was originally set to be discussed during Wednesday’s agenda meeting but was pushed back a day. 

The PSC covered a number of other cases during Wednesday’s meeting, including the allowance of Osage Utility Operating Company to purchase assets of Osage Water Company. The PSC granted Osage a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) in April to allow for the purchase of those assets and the ability to provide water and sewage services to that area. 

That decision was questioned in a joint appeal by Public Water Supply District No. 5, Lake Area Waste Water Association, Inc., and Missouri Water Association. The companies challenged the PSC’s decision, claiming the report and order was unlawful on 10 counts, including in relation to state law, a failure to review alternatives, and an abuse of discretion. The PSC granted the issue a motion of stay for later consideration. 

Another case considered in the agenda meeting stemmed from a request from Evergy’s branches to receive a variance from the commission’s billing and payment rules. The waiver would apply to residential bills for customers using Time of Use (TOU) rates on meters and would exclude customers from the rule stating that bills must state the beginning and ending meter readings.       

Staff and Evergy agreed to the request. The PSC granted the waiver while enforcing the stipulation that Evergy West must file tariffs to comply with the order. 

The next agenda meeting is scheduled for June 17.

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