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PSC orders feedback on coronavirus late payments


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered the state’s utilities to file timely suggestions on the recovery of past-due customer payments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission ordered input from companies in August, requesting monthly reports compiled by Staff through the end of December. Staff noted it filed its data each month, but utilities did not always submit their replies on time. 

The commission ordered the state’s utilities to submit their responses by the 15th of each month and extended the reports for the foreseeable future during Wednesday’s agenda meeting.

Missouri-American Water Company requested the authority to change its infrastructure system replacement surcharge (ISRS) to recover the cost of system replacements in St. Louis County. Missouri-American submitted tariff sheets reflecting the adjustments and requested expedited treatment to enact the changes on Dec. 19, which the PSC approved. 

Spire Missouri requested a modification of an order issued by the commission in June. The order granted temporary waivers for Spire’s eastern and western districts, allowing them to forgo certain gas safety rules due to COVID-19. The commission required all facilities to be brought into compliance by the end of the year — a deadline Spire sought to extend through the end of March.

Commission Staff filed a report on the modification request, suggesting its approval under the condition that the extended waiver period is limited to “residential customers who refuse entry to the home due to the coronavirus pandemic.” The commission approved Staff’s suggestion, noting that the waiver would likely apply to a small number of facilities in the company’s service area. The commission ordered Spire to begin documenting noncompliant facilities after the first of the year. 

Spire submitted tariff sheets in September to modify its Commercial and Industrial Rebate program. The program would allocate $500,000 in unspent rebate funds from FY 2020 for small business customers struggling under the weight of the pandemic. Spire updated its sheets in November, reflecting eligibility criteria suggested by Staff. The commission approved the sheets with an effective date of Dec. 12. 

NextEra Energy Transmission, a national energy company, submitted an application with the commission to approve its acquisition of GridLiance High Plains LLC, which serves six states, including Missouri. The commission approved an application to intervene from the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC), which claimed it had an interest in the acquisition due to a contractual relationship with GridLiance and had not been notified of the plan. Despite objections from NextEra and GridLiance, the commission allowed the intervention.

Liberty Utilities applied for accounting authority for its electric, gas, water, and general utility companies over losses from the pandemic. The commission expressed concern about processing a single file from multiple applicants and ordered the companies to submit individual applications instead. 

The commission also approved a request from the Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers (MIEC) to intervene in Ameren Missouri’s application for authority to defer costs associated with the pandemic. 

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9. Though the Governor’s Office Building is reopening Dec. 21, commissioners said they had no plans to return to in-person meetings for the foreseeable future.