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PSC reconsiders Spire case after Supreme Court remand

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After the Missouri Supreme Court remanded part of Spire Missouri’s previous rate increase, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is moving forward with the issue as part of the company’s latest request. 

The high court remanded the 2018 order in February, ordering the PSC to add $9 million in pension assets accrued between 1994 and 1996 to a $131 million asset held by Spire East. Staff and Spire suggested including the conditions of the remand in Spire’s ongoing general rate case in compliance with the court’s mandate. 

The commission approved the inclusion during Wednesday’s agenda meeting, with Chairman Ryan Silvey noting hearings are set to begin on the rate case later this month. Spire is seeking an average rate increase of $3.28 per month for most residential customers in an effort to recoup expenses, bolster its infrastructure, and fund new programs. 

The commission approved Evergy Missouri’s request to adjust charges from its investment mechanism under the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA). Evergy sought to decrease residential customers’ bills by 73 cents a month and increase non-residential bills slightly to compensate for overcollections over the past year. 

Ameren Missouri’s new tariff program offering customers protection from electrical surges that could affect their meters was suspended for 60 days. The program would allow customers to obtain protection from surges backed by a 15-year manufacturer’s warranty on their meters for a $10 monthly fee. The filing was suspended to allow the commission to continue its deliberation on the program, which had an effective date of July 31. 

Aptitude Internet LLC was approved for designation as an eligible wireless carrier (ETC) after receiving money from the Rural Digital Opportunity Funds (RDOF) requiring it to extend broadband service to rural areas. 

The commission also heard a presentation from Spire Missouri President Scott Carter regarding its interstate natural gas pipeline that was left in flux after a federal court remanded its approval to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the PSC’s federal equivalent. 

If the pipeline were taken out of service, Carter said Spire’s ability to provide natural gas service to the St. Louis region would be heavily constrained. The change could result in interruptions during the winter and loss of energy for 175,000-400,000 customers in the region, with a gap in service possibly lasting up to 100 days. 

The next PSC agenda hearing is scheduled for July 22.