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PSC opens investigation into Spire’s record-keeping, customer service practices

   

At Staff’s request, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has opened an investigation into Spire Missouri’s customer service and billing record-keeping practices.

According to the commission, Staff had requested a probe into Spire’s record-keeping, business operations, and responsiveness. Staff pointed to alleged issues with the natural gas company’s billing and customer service practices. 

“If that is true, it is concerning,” PSC Chairman Ryan Silvey said Monday. “I’m interested to see what the results are.” 

The commission’s order noted it was “only a fact-finding investigation,” meaning it will not “take any action regarding Spire Missouri’s practices within the confines of this investigation.” 

In response, Spire said it “does not agree with many of the legal and factual assertions in Staff’s motion” but will cooperate with the investigation. 

As it approved the investigation, the PSC also revised a previous report and order regarding a complaint brought by a St. Louis woman who alleged she was being charged for natural gas she did not use. The commission had dismissed the complaint in mid-December, and the revised order noted her customer service complaints will be investigated by Staff. Those customer service issues, however, did not impact her specific complaint, commissioners said. 

Commissioners also granted Monday Ameren Missouri’s request for a variance from the LED light conversion limits detailed in its tariff sheet. Ameren is restricted to providing only 1,000 LED conversions and 25 per customer annually.

The commission noted Ameren hasn’t hit its annual limit since the program started in 2016, but Cape Girardeau has planned to replace more than 1,000 of its streetlights. The approved variance is set to expire in July. 

Additionally, the PSC: 

  • Approved Empire District Electric Company’s notice, but with a slight modification, to be sent to customers regarding its rate case
  • Granted a certificate of convenience and necessity to Spire for a natural gas distribution system to serve a poultry operation in Newton County
  • Denied a request for a rehearing from Midwest Energy Consumers Group (MECG) regarding a special incremental load rate between Evergy Missouri West and Nucor Steel in Sedalia which had already been approved by the PSC in November

The next agenda meeting is set for Jan. 8.