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PSC grants variance from gas inspection rules over coronavirus concerns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a second variance from its gas meter inspection rules for Summit Natural Gas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summit was granted an initial variance in September 2020 which referenced health guidelines stemming from the pandemic that prevented workers from conducting tests to comply with the commission’s rules. 

While Summit workers tested some meters earlier this year, it projected it would not complete the required inspections before the end of the year. The company requested permission to begin its 2022 testing requirements at the beginning of the year. 

Commissioners approved Summit’s request during Thursday’s agenda meeting, noting the continued impact of the pandemic on the economy and utility operations. 

Ameren Missouri was allowed to extend its cost recovery period in the wake of February’s cold snap from one year to three, allowing it until February 2024 to recover expenses through customer bills. 

Ameren was also granted an extension for its integrated resources plan (IRP) filing after it found it wouldn’t be able to file it by the Oct. 1 deadline; the new due date was set for Dec. 15. 

A June 2020 complaint against Missouri-American Water Company alleged the company overcharged a customer, failed to credit their bills, and didn’t comply with a request to change their meter. After several delays and a Staff report recommending the complaint’s dismissal, the commission denied the complaint. 

Liberty Utilities’ Weather Normalization Adjustment Rider (WNAR) was approved to go into effect on Oct. 1. The filing will increase customer bills across Liberty’s service area by around $1. 

Cable One VoIP LLC sought to withdraw its designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC). Cable One was granted designation by the commission last month after receiving the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, requiring it to extend broadband service to rural areas. The company is now pursuing a separate program through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which doesn’t require ETC status, so the commission approved its request to stop the designation from going into effect Friday. 

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29.