The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 27, 2013

PSC approves boost in rates for Empire; increase to take effect April 1

By Wally Kennedy

— Residential customers of Empire District Electric Co., based in Joplin, will see their rates increase 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 agreement was filed by Empire, the Office of the Public Counsel, the staff of the PSC, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Midwest Energy Users’ Association and the Midwest Energy Consumers’ Group.

“We approved the agreement today because it was unanimous in nature, including the support of the consumer advocate (the Office of the Public Counsel),” said PSC Chairman Kevin Gunn in a prepared statement.

The agreement calls for an electric rate increase of about $27.5 million. A residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see an increase of about $7.74.

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

When Empire filed its rate request with the PSC on July 6, 2012, it sought to increase annual electric operating revenues by about $30.7 million. Included in that request was an interim rate increase 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.

Last rate hike

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, according to the company.