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Senate passes sewer, rate adjustment policy change 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate third read and passed a utility rate adjustment bill Thursday, quickly approving changes made during this week’s lengthy perfection debate

SB 44 from Sen. Bill White would allow water and sewer companies to request rate changes more often. Under current law, utilities go to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rate adjustment on a three-year cycle. The legislation would allow companies serving more than 8,000 customers to request a slight increase every six months through a water and sewer infrastructure rate adjustment (WSIRA) to keep up with the conditions of equipment and speed up cost recovery. 

The bill’s perfection debate began Tuesday afternoon and concluded just after midnight Wednesday with Sen. Jill Schupp spearheading the opposition before the bill was ultimately perfected. Schupp again addressed her concerns about water companies’ involvement with the legislation before its passage, noting she would not speak nearly as long on this motion.  

“If you are a customer of Missouri-American Water, understand you will now, going forward, have an additional charge once this bill goes into effect for consumers in your district who will be paying for regular work that the water company does,” Schupp said. “Whether you are paying early for expenses that were prudently incurred or not, the water company will be profiting off of that.”

The bill passed 20-12, with Schupp and Sen. Eric Burlison among the no votes. Burlison was the sole Republican to vote against it in committee in February; he noted the complexity of the bill and said consumers in his district approached him with concerns over price increases.

While the bill began as a WSIRA bill, a myriad of amendments were added Tuesday after the title of the bill was broadened to “utilities.” The perfected bill would also allow electric cooperatives to conduct remote annual meetings and vote virtually through next August due to the pandemic, change the designation of taxing pipes from real to personal property, and require real or personal property transferred to a utility to be assessed by local authorities.