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PSC expands coronavirus relief program


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved an order that further expands a program assisting low-income customers with billing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission approved the order to allow Spire Missouri to expand its Low-Income Affordability Program in order to continue offering assistance to customers impacted by COVID-19. Spire also requested expedited treatment to allow the order to go into effect by July 18. 

The new order expands the program to customers earning 135 percent of the federal poverty rate from customers within 136-185 percent, as they are no longer covered by other assistance programs. The new order also extended the program through Sept. 30. 

The PSC also approved a recommendation from commission Staff allowing the sale of assets from Spire to St. Louis University (SLU). The company requested permission to sell portions of its natural gas distribution main and pipeline to allow SLU to own a gas distribution system and purchase gas wholesale. 

Commission Staff recommended the approval of the order with the condition that the company repair a leak along the service line, investigate insufficient protection practices, and better mark where the line is located.

The commission also covered a case over Missouri-American Water Company’s application for authority to increase rates for water and sewage services. The company filed tariff sheets naming July 30 as the start date for the rate increase. The PSC ordered the suspension of the rate sheets until May 2021 and issued a notice of a contested case as both the St. Joseph and Midwest Energy Consumers Group (MECG) had filed applications to contest the rate changes.

The PSC also covered a case suspending tariff sheets filed by Missouri-American concerning the treatment of customers’ service lines in St. Louis County. The company requested a transfer of ownership of service lines in St. Joseph to Missouri-American, as the lines were within the company’s service range. 

The Office of Public Counsel submitted a response to a recommendation from Staff, asking for clarification on how ownership of a line is determined since the company is not pursuing similar actions in other parts of the state. Missouri-American’s tariff sheets were suspended by the PSC until Aug. 21 to allow time for the company to supply additional information. 

The PSC also approved Ameren Missouri’s changes to its Technical Resource Manual and Deemed Savings Table the company said would benefit businesses impacted by stay at home orders. The revisions included adding additional services and increasing energy efficiency in order to lower costs.

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for July 15.

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