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PSC returns after holiday break, bids Hassani adieu

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission returned from the holiday break for the first agenda meeting of the year on Wednesday, quickly working through the listed items in a short 28-minute session.

The hotly debated topic of the acquisition of Westar Energy, Inc. by Great Plains Energy Incorporated continues to show up in each agenda meeting as of late, and it was no different in Wednesday’s meeting. The fifth item on the PSC agenda was an order directing staff to submit a report on direct testimony from Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). The issue is even more controversial in Kansas, and the KCC staff recommended the proposed merger transaction be rejected by the KCC.

The commission approved the order requesting a report, ordering an analysis of the KCC staff’s recommendations, due no later than January 18, 2017. The PSC also denied a motion to dismiss by Great Plains Energy, Inc. on a complaint filed by Midwest Energy Consumers Group.

The first item on Wednesday’s agenda approved by the commission was a joint application filed by KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company (GMO) and the City of Harrisonville about an electric territorial agreement.

The issue at hand was a 35-acre site would receive services from GMO, thoughi located inside the City of Harrisonville’s exclusive service area.

The application shows a new industry is expected to build on the site, so both parties agreed that GMO should be allowed to offer service to that site.

The commission agreed with an unanimous vote.

The commissioners also approved a reduction in the surcharge for the Relay Missouri Fund, which helps provide services for people who cannot use traditional telecommunication methods due to disabilities, i.e. deaf, hearing-impaired and speech-impaired. The surcharge will drop from $0.06 to $0.04 per access line starting in April.

“The Commission finds that the Staff’s review was properly conducted.  Adopting Staff’s recommendation will allow the fund to remain solvent and available for those customers who need it, while reducing the bills of all Missouri landline subscribers,” the Commission said in a release.

The next item approved by the PSC was the overturning of North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s decision to withhold numbering resources from Windstream Missouri, LLC. The staff determined that Windstream’s request to receive two LRNs and two NXXs in the Milan and Stotts City, Missouri rate centers fit a verifiable need, so the PSC overturned the decision to grant their request.

The PSC’s next decision concerned a complaint filed by Craig Smith in December of 2014, alleging meter-reading errors and billing problems with Laclede Gas after he enrolled in their “Easy Pay” system.

After the claim was investigated, Laclede agreed to remove any charges or fees on a customer’s account resulting from errors and to refund or give a credit for charges withdrawn in a future billing cycle.

The commission also gave their verbal support to grant AT&T’s request that the Commission issue an order confirming its ETC relinquishment and its withdrawal from the voluntary state Lifeline and Disabled programs.

rachel hassaniBefore adjourning, the commission said farewell to Rachel Hassani, adviser to Commissioner Scott Rupp, who is leaving her position at the end of the week.

The commissioners thanked her for her service and wished her the best in her endeavors going forward.

“It’s been an honor working with her, she’s a very talented and bright young lady,  and the world is her oyster,” Commissioner Rupp said. “I wish her all the best in the world.”