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PSC waives in-person hearing requirements for Ameren Transmission

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) agreed to waive its rules on in-person hearings for Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATXI, which handles transmission lines in multiple midwestern states, applied to construct a transmission line passing through Perry and Cape Girardeau counties earlier this year. As the case progressed, the company requested a waiver of in-person hearings mandated as part of the commission’s rules in favor of virtual hearings to accommodate health recommendations. 

Various entities applied to intervene, noting elderly or rural customers in the area may be unable to join an online session. In response, the company planned to allow customers to join hearings by phone or submit comments through the mail. The PSC approved ATXI’s request during Wednesday’s agenda meeting, noting the company was providing adequate methods for the public to interact with the project. 

Elm Hills Utility Operating Company requested authority for a water and sewer rate increase in March. Commission Staff conducted an audit of the request, and the Office of Public Counsel (OPC) entered into negotiations with the company based on the results. OPC and Elm Hills agreed to lower the requested rates and consolidate rates for four of its service areas, install meters to measure use in mobile homes along its service area, and track costs to report to OPC and the commission. The PSC voted to approve the agreement.

The commission set a procedural schedule for a case involving Spire Missouri’s request for a rate increase. The commission suspended Spire’s tariff sheets until public hearings are conducted in July. 

Additionally, Spire applied to move the effective date of a prior order extending a waiver of commission rules on in-person inspections and replacements due to COVID-19. The extension was originally to go into effect in February, but Spire and Staff suggested moving the effective date to the first of the year. The commission approved a new effective date of Jan. 9.

The commission also approved a stipulation and agreement reconciling skewed costs from Veolia Energy Kansas City. Veolia was granted credits by the city last year by mistake after adjustments were made to the city’s billing methods, and the new agreement between the company and Staff outlined a plan to rectify the issue over the next two years.

The Roeslein Alternative Energy Company (RAES) applied for a waiver from the commission’s gas odorization rule for an interstate pipeline running through Putnam County, stating interstate lines are to be “free from objectionable odors” per the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The commission approved the waiver, requiring RAES to conduct regular leakage surveys and annual studies of the pipeline to ensure its safety.  

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8. Commissioners said meetings will continue to be held remotely for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.