The Missouri Public Service Commission (Commission) has approved an agreement filed by parties in the rate case which authorizes The Empire District Electric Company (Empire) to increase annual electric operating revenues by approximately $20.4 million, effective for service on and after September 14, 2016.
As part of its decision, the Public Service Commission has authorized Empire to implement an experimental residential low-income pilot program that provides a 100 percent discount on the customer charge ($13.00 a month) for certain eligible low-income customers, based on Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) eligibility.
“The goal of the temporary pilot program shall be to evaluate the impact a discount in the customer charge for low-income residential customers has on the disconnection and bad debt rates for Empire both during and after participation in the program,” said the Commission. The results of the experimental program will be reviewed in Empire’s next general rate case.
When Empire filed its rate case with the Commission on October 16, 2015, it sought to increase annual electric operating revenues by approximately $33.4 million. According to the filing, the most significant factor driving the rate increase request was costs associated with the conversion of the Riverton Unit 12 natural gas combustion turbine to combined cycle operations. Additional factors included increased transmission expense, administrative and maintenance expense and costs incurred as a result of a mandated solar rebate program.
As part of its rate request, Empire sought continuation of the Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC). Under the agreement approved by the Commission, the FAC will be continued with Empire adjusting customer bills twice a year (June and December) to reflect any change in fuel and purchased power costs.
According to the PSC Staff, a residential customer using 1,000 kWh (1,000 kilowatt-hours) of electricity will see monthly electric bills increase by approximately $7.60. Under the agreement approved by the Commission, the fixed monthly customer charge for residential customers will be $13.00 a month (currently $12.52 a month). The agreement stated the approximate $20.4 million increase is based on a return on equity range of 9.5 to 9.9 percent.
The Empire District Electric Company serves approximately 150,300 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.