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This Week in the Missouri PSC: December 20, 2017

Commission ties up loose ends for the year

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In the final meeting of the year for the Missouri Public Service Commission, the commissioners dealt with five tariffs and new orders on Wednesday morning.

The first of these was a case involving the rescission of a waiver granted to the City of Kennett, concerning a yard line that is no longer in use, which the commission ruled meant there was no need for the waiver.

“It seems relatively uncontroversial to me,” Chairman Daniel Hall laughed as the commission approved the order with a 5-0 vote.

Following up on a case that had been discussed earlier in the month, the PSC took action in denying Brandon Jessip’s request for a change of electric supplier.

“This is a relatively small issue if you look at all of the utility issues before us on a regular basis, but I don’t want to belittle Mr. Jessip’s complaint,” Hall said. “The principal issue in the anti-flip-flop law… The statute is very well written, the policy is very clear, and I think we need to support that. The facts are clear that the statute applies and there is not a compelling reason.”

Only Commissioner Scott Rupp sided with Mr. Jessip, saying he believed there to be a compelling case, but a 4-1 vote was the final decision.

The next two items concerned a complaint case of William Gehrs vs. Empire.

The PSC approved both requests, granting an application to intervene in the case that was filed by Bob Higginbotham, a multi-unit property owner in Joplin, while the other concerned a request to enforce certain discovery issues. Both were approved 5-0.

The fifth order on the docket proved to be the most difficult for the commissioners, as it also concerned a case that had been discussed earlier in the month. In regard to Missouri American Water Company’s request for an AAO, the commission had been split 2-2 on the issue in the previous week, with Chairman Hall leaning towards denying the application.

The commission asked Judge Burton two draft two orders: one denying the application for the AAO, the second granting it, and to bring them forward in the following week.

One week later, and Chairman Hall still held to his prior beliefs in the matter, saying that “at the end of the day, an AAO is an extraordinary ratemaking measure.”

“I don’t think that the facts of this case meet that standard. It’s not an extraordinary action… I just don’t think it met that burden,” Hall said.

Commissioner Stephen Stoll agreed, noting that it was taxes rather than some other revenue.

Commissioner Bill Kenney, however, noted that the increases were rare or unprecedented, which he said constituted grounds for approving the AAO. Commissioner Scott Rupp agreed with Kenney, while Commissioner Maida Coleman expressed her beliefs that the AAO’s necessary grounds had not been met.

In the end, the order denying the application was approved by a 3-2 vote.

The commission also discussed an upcoming hearing regarding the rescinding of small utility rate case procedure, which will take place on Thursday, as well as checking the status of a Sunshine Law request that was related to Noranda. Ameren also gave a short presentation before the commission discussing grids and innovation.

The PSC will not be gathering for another agenda meeting next week, due to the Christmas holiday. They will return following the new year.