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Spire’s coronavirus assistance program accelerated with PSC approval

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approval, Spire Missouri can move up the start date for one of its COVID-19 relief programs. 

Spire requested expedited treatment of its COVID-19 residential assistance program, which allows eligible customers to receive a match of up to $300 from the company in paying past-due bills if they join the program and comply with its terms. 

The company submitted tariff sheets last week, initially set to go into effect Nov. 20. Spire requested expedited treatment to allow the program to begin Nov. 7. The PSC granted the company’s timeline during Wednesday’s agenda meeting. 

“I hope this program will help customers who’ve been struggling financially through this pandemic,” said PSC Chairman Ryan Silvey. 

The Missouri-American Water Company requested accounting authority to defer and accumulate costs and financial impacts from COVID-19. The company sought to defer the costs as regulatory assets for consideration in a future rate case. A stipulation and agreement was submitted earlier this month, requiring the company to defer the costs as a regulatory liability rather than as an asset. The commission approved the company’s accounting authority through the end of March. 

Elm Hills Utility Operating Company requested a water and sewer rate increase earlier this month. The Office of Public Counsel (OPC) requested additional accounting information to consider whether other entities, including Elm Hills’ out-of-state parent company, might factor into the rate change. The company objected, arguing the information would not be relevant to the case and records related to out-of-state companies were outside the commission’s jurisdiction. 

The commission found OPC’s request was reasonable and allowed it to request financial documents.

Ameren Missouri filed a tariff sheet updating its Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA) rate to reflect changes in natural gas costs. Commission Staff reviewed the sheets and suggested an interim period subject to refund until the commission reached a final decision on other Ameren cases in mid-December. The commission approved the interim rate increase beginning Nov. 1.

The PSC set a procedural schedule for a case involving Evergy Metro. The company requested accounting authority to record and preserve costs stemming from the pandemic. Hearings on the case are scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13.

The next PSC agenda meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4. Commissioners said meetings would continue to be held virtually for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.