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This Week in the Missouri PSC: December 13, 2017

Commission approves Empire’s request for protective order

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – This week in the Missouri Public Service Commission’s weekly agenda meeting, the commission got to put one of their new rules to the test.

On October 31 of this year, Empire Electric applied for approval of its plan for customer savings through the development of wind generation and retiring a coal-fired unit. In November, Dogwood Energy filed a motion to intervene, which led to Empire’s motion for a protective order, seeking to prevent the disclosure of information of a sensitive or competitive nature to Dogwood’s employees. However, the information would still be available to their lawyers and outside consultants.

“This is the first time that our confidentiality rule has been at issue,” Chairman Daniel Hall noted while presenting the case before the commission.

In the end, the PSC ruled that the disclosure of certain information could be harmful to Empire’s business interests, and chose to grant a protective order.

The PSC also approved the proposed procedural schedule for Empire’s customer savings plan.

  • December 19, 2017: Technical conference
  • January 12, 2018: Settlement conference and last day to request local public hearing
  • February 7, 2018: Rebuttal testimony
  • February 23, 2018: Settlement conference
  • March 13, 2018: Surrebuttal testimony
  • March 21, 2018: Joint list of issues, list and order of witnesses, order of parties for cross-examination, order of opening statements
  • March 30, 2018: Position statements
  • April 6, 2018: Stipulation of non-disputed material facts
  • April 16-20, 2018: Evidentiary hearing
  • May 10, 2018: Initial briefs
  • May 22, 2018: Reply briefs

The commission also approved Summit Natural Gas’ application to modify some of their financing instruments, designed to refinance existing debt. The commissioners voted 5-0 to extend the term of its outstanding secured indebtedness to $100,000,000, effective Dec, 27, 2017.

The commission also approved the following procedural schedule in Gascony Water Company’s request for an increase in annual water system operating revenues:

  • January 8, 2018: Direct testimony- company
  • January 29, 2018: Rebuttal testimony- Staff and OPC
  • February 8, 2018: Surrebuttal testimony- all parties
  • February 13, 2018: Joint list of issues, list and order of witnesses, order of parties for cross-examination, order of opening statements
  • February 13, 2018: Last day to request discovery
  • February 16, 2018: Position statements
  • Feb. 22-23, 2018: Evidentiary hearing
  • March 12, 2018: Initial briefs
  • March 19, 2018: Reply briefs

As for case discussion, the issue brought before the commission by Judge Burton regarding Missouri American’s AAO on property taxes in St. Louis and Platte Counties proved to be too divided among the commissioners. With a 2-2 split among the commissioners, Chairman Hall asked that the judge prepare two orders, one in favor and the other denying, saying that it seemed more time was needed to further debate the issue.