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PSC gets update on Rock Island Rail

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) met today for their regularly scheduled weekly agenda meeting. The 20-minute meeting addressed three issues of Tariffs and New Orders, one case for discussion, and a Sunshine request.

 

Rock Island Trail

The first order of business was reviewing the timeline for Case EW-2011-0139, which has been ongoing since 2011.

The agenda meeting came between meetings Ameren Vice President External Affairs and Communications Warren Wood and Manager Regulatory Affairs Gaye Suggett which were scheduled with the individual commissioners regarding Rock Island Rail.

Pursuant to 4 CSR 240-4.020(8), companies file a Notice of Meeting in all contested cases pending before the PSC.

Rock Island Rail is property currently owned partially by Ameren. In October of 2014, Ameren announced they would be accepting bids to sell their portion of the former rail line, but ultimately abandoning the property to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

“At this point, that is the best possible outcome for the trail option,” said a release from Missouri Rails to Trails, who had submitted a purchase bid, in the fall. “We applaud Ameren for taking time to carefully consider the options and, in the end, taking the option that will best benefit Ameren stockholders and customers, as well as the citizens of Missouri, in retaining this portion of the corridor to railbank it and transfer the corridor to Missouri State Parks to become part of the new Rock Island Trail State Park.

“Missouri State Parks, with the strong support of Governor Nixon, has also played a vitally important role in bringing the Rock Island Trail to this point,” the release continued. “Because Missouri State Parks built a strong, ongoing relationship with Ameren as they negotiated to railbank the 46 miles of Rock Island corridor between Pleasant Hill and Windsor, Ameren now feels comfortable in moving forward on a similar basis to railbank the next 145 miles–creating a second cross-state trail in Missouri.”

Railbanking is a complex legal process, and could take years to complete. As a public trail, Rock Island and Katy Trails would create a 400 mile loop across Missouri.

 

Complaint Dismissed

In January, Fred Sauer filed a complaint with the PSC against Ameren and the PSC. The complaint says that the Commission responded improperly to a request from Mr. Sauer for certain information under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. The complaint also alleges that Ameren Missouri and the Commission’s classification of this requested information as highly confidential under Commission Rule 4 CSR 240-2.135 was unlawful, unreasonable, and an abuse of discretion.

Staff Counsel of the Commission responded to the complaint on January 22 to dismiss the complaint and gave Sauer the opportunity to respond, but there was none.

Staff and the PSC contend that state statutes do not permit them to release the information Sauer requested.

“As an administrative agency, the Commission has only those powers that are granted to it by statute,” reads the dismissal order. “Section 386.390, RSMo 2000 authorizes the bringing of a complaint before the Commission against any ‘corporation, person, or public utility’. Such a complaint must set forth ‘any act or thing done or omitted to be done … in violation, or claimed to be in violation, of any provision of law, or any rule or order or decision of the commission.’ That law is a very broad grant of authority to hear complaints, but that broad grant of authority must also be limited to hearing complaints against those persons and corporate entities that are subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction. Chapter 393 of the Missouri statutes gives the Commission authority to regulate electrical corporations, such as Ameren Missouri. However, there is nothing in Missouri’s statutes that would give the Commission authority to consider a complaint against itself. Therefore, Mr. Sauer’s complaint against the Commission must be dismissed. Since Staff reasonably requested expedited treatment to avoid having to answer the complaint unnecessarily, the Commission will make this order effective in ten days. The Commission will address the motion to dismiss the complaint against Ameren Missouri in a separate order.”

 

Tariff Sheet Approval

The Commission approved an Order Approving Tariff Sheets for KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company (KCP&L GMO).

KCP&L GMO filed an application to discontinue, then opting to freeze, its Multi-Family Rebate Program and Energy Star New Homes demand-side management programs because the programs are not cost effective due to a low level of participation, which was approved by the Commission at Staff Counsel’s recommendation.

The Energy Star Qualified New Homes Rebate allowed customers to earn up to $800 for each energy-efficient home or multi-family unit they build.

The proposed tariff sheets which were filed by KCP&L GMO were approved to become effective on February 11, 2015.

 

Sunshine Request

The “Sunshine Request For Release Of Documents Related To An Informal Complaint Against KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company” was approved due to the willingness of KCP&L to provide the requested documents.