JEFFERSON CITY—The Missouri Public Service Commission has unanimously approved an agreement among parties in a natural gas rate case filed last September by Missouri Gas Energy (MGE), a division of Laclede Gas Company. The agreement will take effect for service rendered on and after May 1, 2014.
The agreement, submitted by the Office of the Public Counsel, the PSC Staff, MGE, the Missouri Department of Economic Development-Division of Energy and Midwest Gas Users’ Association and USG Corporation, resolves all issues in a natural gas rate case filed by MGE on September 16, 2013. Although not signatories to the agreement, the remaining parties indicated they did not oppose the agreement.
The agreement provides for a decrease in residential customer fixed rates from $28.10 to $27.87 a month until October 1, 2014. At that time, the monthly customer charge for a residential customer will go to $23.00 a month plus a volumetric delivery charge of $0.0738 per Ccf (per 100 cubic feet of natural gas).
When MGE filed its rate request in September, it sought an increase in annual natural gas revenues of approximately $23.4 million, which included amounts already being collected by MGE through its Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS). Under the agreement, annual natural gas revenues will increase by approximately $7.8 million with the ISRS being re-set to zero effective May 1, 2014.
This rate case involved MGE’s non-gas costs which are operating and maintenance expenses and a return on investment in plant (such as natural gas mains and service lines that carry natural gas to the customer’s home or business). The rates that wholesale suppliers charge MGE for natural gas are not regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission and are not a part of this rate case. The actual cost of natural gas makes up approximately 55 to 60 percent of a typical residential customer’s monthly bill.
Under the terms of the agreement, MGE will continue to provide various conservation and energy efficiency programs designed to enable customers to have more control over their energy costs. In addition, to help low-income customers with natural gas bills because of the unusually cold 2013-14 winter, a one-time temporary low-income energy affordability program has been established.
The agreement also establishes a new experimental “Red Tag” program for low income customers. Under the program, financial assistance is provided so that customers can make needed repairs to their equipment or piping where necessary to restore or avoid an interruption of service and, in the process, enhance safety. The agreement also establishes a new experimental “Red Tag” program for all customers. Under this experimental program, MGE may make minimal repairs to customer piping or equipment while already at the customer’s premises for another reason in order to avoid service interruptions and enhance customer safety.
MGE serves approximately 500,000 natural gas customers in Missouri.