Jefferson City — The Missouri Public Service Commission just approved Spire’s new natural gas rates – effective April 19 – and your monthly gas bill will actually decrease, with the savings varying cross the state.
Last year, Laclede Gas Company (Spire’s Eastern Missouri territory) requested an increase of $3.31 per month for the average residential customer. But after a full audit and litigation of consumer concerns, these customers will actually see a rate reduction of approximately 5%, or an average of $2.00 per month less for an average residential consumer.
MGE (Spire’s Western Missouri territory) requested a $5.09 per month increase for the average residential customer but these customers will see a rate reduction of approximately 1%, or $0.40 less each month for an average consumer.
The measure is not a slam dunk for consumers – the order granted a very high profit level (9.8%) and approved a Weather Adjustment, which exposes consumers to future rate increases whenever we experience a warmer than normal winter, a rate mechanism that consumers will continue to fight. The Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) will also continue to grow in the future.
Overall, however, gas bills will go down this month, giving consumers a reason to cheer.
But this rate reduction almost didn’t happen. Two years ago, Consumers Council of Missouri successfully fought state legislation (HB 1471 – 2016 / SB 849 – 2016) that would have prevented this rate case from happening. At that time, the gas utility claimed that the legislation would spare ratepayers a costly rate increase.
“Consumer advocates have been saying for years that gas delivery prices should be reduced, “ says John Coffman of Consumers Council “ and in fact, this is the third full rate case audit in a row that has resulted in some rate reduction for the Laclede Gas area.”
Another positive that came out of this most recent rate case was the outline of an improved low-income program, that should end up providing over a million dollars of relief, with rewards for participants who keep current on their bill payments. A settlement provides 120 days for the utility, consumer groups, and community action agencies to work out the details of this new program.