The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 14, 2014

Public hearing set Tuesday in Joplin for MGE rate case

The Missouri Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Webster Hall’s Corley Auditorium on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.

The hearing is for a rate case filed by Missouri Gas Energy — the first rate case filed by the company since 2010 and the first requested since MGE was acquired last year by Laclede Gas Co., St. Louis.

The session begins with a public information and question-and-answer session. The taking of sworn statements will follow.

Other hearings will be held later this month in the Kansas City area and in St. Joseph.

MGE serves approximately 500,000 natural gas customers in western Missouri, including Joplin.

On Sept. 16, 2013, Laclede filed a rate case with the PSC seeking a general rate increase of approximately $17 million in new net revenue. According to the company, the request, if approved in full, would raise the monthly bill for every MGE residential customer by $2.33 per month.

The PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities, can take up to 11 months to review the request, which means the rates would likely not go into effect until next summer.

Laclede spokeswoman Jenny Gobble said in September that approximately 60 percent of a customer’s natural gas bill reflects the cost of unregulated natural gas from wholesale suppliers, and shows up on a customer’s bill as the “Cost of Gas.”

That is not part of the rate case.

The case before the PSC pertains to the 40 percent of the bill that covers MGE’s cost of delivering natural gas, making infrastructure improvements, such as pipeline upgrades, and other costs. MGE operates and maintains more than 14,000 miles of pipeline, and the rate case allows the utility to seek reimbursement for the upgrades made in these pipelines and for operating its natural gas delivery system.

MGE acquired

Laclede Gas Co. completed its $975 million acquisition of Missouri Gas Energy in September, giving the company 1.1 million natural gas customers in the state. Under the agreement, any acquisition premium — the total purchase price above net book value — that Laclede paid for MGE cannot be recovered in retail distribution charges.

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