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PSC denies Empire’s resolution request in cold snap complaint case 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) denied Empire District Gas Company’s request for summary judgment in a complaint case stemming from February’s cold snap

Symmetry Energy Solutions, a Texas-based natural gas provider, filed a complaint with the commission in August after Empire demanded Symmetry pay more than $11 million in Operational Flow Order penalties or lose access to Empire’s supply. Empire urged the PSC to issue an order in its favor without a hearing, but commissioners denied the request during Wednesday’s agenda meeting, pledging to continue their investigation of the issue through the commission’s complaint process. 

The complaint is one of several leveled by Symmetry and other Texas providers over the past few months.

Empire and Midstate Natural Gas were approved to extend their recovery periods from the cold snap over the next three years. Empire further stretched its recovery period for its southern region across five years. 

Summit Natural Gas applied for a three-year extension as well, though Staff opposed a section of the application that would allow the company to charge a 9.64 percent interest rate on its carrying cost. Staff argued the interest rate was higher than normal and urged the commission not to approve it without conducting discovery or holding a hearing on the matter. The PSC rejected that section but approved the overall application, allowing Summit to file a replacement carrying cost proposal separately. 

The PSC has approved several companies’ requests to extend cost recovery over the coming years in the wake of the devastating winter storm, which led to rolling blackouts and skyrocketing energy costs in some portions of the state. 

Mid MO Sanitation, LLC was approved for a sewer service rate increase beginning Dec. 4. Mid MO and Staff reached an agreement allowing it to recover more than $18,000 from customers annually. 

Evergy Missouri West filed a tariff last month seeking to include steam service in its quarterly cost adjustment for the third quarter of 2021, which noted a $1.5 million increase in steam charges compared to the third quarter of 2020. Commissioners gave the change a green light after Staff reviewed the calculations and recommended their approval. 

Missouri-American Water Company’s Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS), which was approved by the commission last year, was remanded by the Western District Court of Appeals in May after the court found the order unlawful. The court opposed the calculation of Missouri-American’s net operating loss, which was formulated by zero revenue rather than actual gross revenue as required under the law. 

Commissioners approved a new version of the order Wednesday which included more than $19,000 in credits for customers based on the new calculation. The temporary rate adjustment will grant customers a 6 cent credit on their bills. 

Missouri-American was also granted a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to construct and operate a sewer system in Hallsville. Though the Boone County Sewer District applied to intervene in the case, the project was approved by voters and the Hallsville Board of Aldermen in 2019. 

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Nov. 24.