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PSC orders refunds for utility replacements

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An order for Spire Missouri to refund customers for past surcharges was approved by Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) Wednesday. 

The decision came after the commission considered Spire’s Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) filings from 2016 to 2018 after consideration by the Western District Court of Appeals. The courts had mandated the refund of ISRS surcharges for the replacement of iron and steel mains and service lines that were not worn out enough to warrant a replacement.

The commission and Spire agreed to a program during Wednesday’s agenda meeting in which Spire will refund a total of $15 million to customers through a one-time credit going towards the next bill after August. 

The two parties agreed that Spire would not file for further cost recovery of resources for 2018.

The PSC also covered a case regarding the Empire District Electric Company during the agenda meeting. The case involved Empire’s filing of tariff sheets in 2019 designed to begin a general rate increase the company’s utility services. The files were suspended until July 11 of this year in order to give the commission time to review the plans and to decide whether they were reasonable.

The commission consulted with a number of organizations and held public hearings and a test year for the rate increases. Further rate adjustments were requested by the PSC due to the planned closure of the Asbury coal plant owned by Empire. 

The case continued to be considered through hearings and agreements between the PSC and Empire before the decision. The PSC approved its report on the case and issued its order, rejecting the tariff sheets filed by Empire and requiring the filing of new information to account for revenue lost and for the closing of the plant.

The PSC also approved Empire’s 2019 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance report and 2020 RES plan. The commission found that the report provided all the necessary information needed by the PSC, and agreed to close the file on the report without further recommendations. 

The commission also set a procedural schedule for an ongoing case involving Evergy. The case involves Evergy’s request for an accounting authority order (AAO) to allow the company to deal with the costs and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evergy’s proposed procedural schedule ended with Dec. 18 listed as the last day the PSC could give an order on the issue before handing complete control to the company. Commission Staff had suggested that the proposed date was impractical, so the commission agreed to the scheduled hearings and meetings with the exception of a final date for the change to take effect.

The next PSC agenda meeting is set for July 8.


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