The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 27, 2013

PSC approves 4.7 percent rate increase for Empire

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — Residential customers of the Empire District Electric Co., based in Joplin, will see their rates increase by about $5.60 per month, beginning April 1.

The Missouri Public Service Commission, in a 5-0 vote Wednesday, approved an agreement reached by parties in the electric rate case filed by the company.

The unanimous agreement was filed by the Office of the Public Counsel, the state’s utility consumer advocate, Empire, the staff of the Missouri Public Service Commission, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Midwest Energy Users’ Association and the Midwest Energy Consumer’s Group.

“We approved the agreement today because it was unanimous in nature, including the support of the consumer advocate,” said PSC Chairman Kevin Gunn. “Parties agreed Empire should receive a rate increase and parties asked that the commission approve the agreement with an effective date of April 1, 2013.”

The agreement calls for an electric rate increase of approximately $27.5 million.  Under the agreement, a residential customer using approximately 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will see an increase of approximately $7.74 per month.

When a fuel adjustment clause is netted out, the actual increase is approximately $5.60 per month, said Amy Bass, spokeswoman for the company.

“Our customers are already paying that fuel adjustment,’’ she said, which amounts to about $2.14 per month for a residential customer.

As part of the agreement, Empire will not seek to implement a general rate increase prior to Oct. 1, 2014.

Said Bass: “They asked us to make that part of the agreement. We don’t anticipate the need for that.’’

When Empire filed its rate request with the Public Service Commission on July 6, 2012, it sought to increase annual electric operating revenues of approximately $30.7 million. Included in that request was an interim rate increase request of about $6.2 million. The interim request was denied by the commission.

Empire sought the rate increase to recover costs associated with the May 22, 2011, tornado and other operational issues.

The company’s last rate increase was announced in May 2011. The PSC granted an annual revenue increase of $18.7 million, or 4 percent. For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, the monthly increase was about $3.52.

The company serves approximately 149,500 electric customers in the Missouri counties of Barry, Barton, Cedar, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Polk, St. Clair, Stone and Taney.