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PSC opens case on Regional Transmission Organizations

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) opened a working case to evaluate the benefits of utility companies partnering with Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) Wednesday.

RTOs are electric power transmission systems that coordinate the transfer of power from hubs across the U.S. The commission ordered Missouri’s investor-owned utility companies to report the benefits and drawbacks of their memberships with RTOs to Staff. 

The commission also expressed concern over the fluctuating structure and services of RTOs due to their nature as interstate systems.

Commissioners instructed Staff to determine what kind of information would be needed to respond to orders regarding RTOs, how much reviews would cost, what alternatives to RTOs membership exist, and what events would make it unreasonable for utilities to remain associated with RTOs. Staff was given a reporting deadline of June 30, 2021.

A procedural schedule was set for a rate adjustment case involving Elm Hills Utility Operating Company’s request for an evidentiary hearing. The company requested a water and sewer rate increase in March, insisting the increase would cover rising costs associated with operations and maintenance, customer service, and insurance expenses. The Office of Public Counsel (OPC) objected to the proposed rate changes, claiming the company had not provided adequate evidence that the rate increases were necessary. 

The commission set a procedural schedule for the case based on recommendations from the opposing parties. Both sides will offer testimony before an evidentiary hearing is held on Dec. 17. 

The commission denied an application for a rehearing from Empire District Electric Company and OPC. The parties sought further discussion on the company’s request for a rate increase, which the commission approved in late July. OPC filed for a rehearing in the case, saying the report and order issued by the commission was unreasonable and some rates were miscalculated. The company filed a similar application to argue OPC’s objections the following week, citing similar concerns. The commission denied the applications, finding no cause to reevaluate its ruling. 

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21. Commissioners said they will continue to meet remotely for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.