Category: Utilities

Sandra Padgett and Jackie Hutchinson to Speak at MO Council on Aging Lunch and Learn

Missouri Council on Aging Learning Lab: The Impact of Energy Inflation on Older Adults in Missouri, featuring Sandra Padgett, CCM Executive Director, and Jacqueline Hutchinson, CCM Director of Advocacy
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Time: 11:30am-12:00pm
Location: Virtual Only (link provided after registration is complete)
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2024 Utility Bills You Should be Aware of

Missouri Capitol

The Missouri legislative session provides creative ways to enable utilities to increase their rates. 

These bills would affect everyone’s bottom line, hitting those with low- and moderate-income especially hard.

If you view yourself as an educated consumer, you should be familiar with these bills.

Construction Work in Progress (“CWIP”): Senate Bill 928 (Senator Mike Cierpiot)

Misleadingly referred to as the “Missouri Clean Power Act”, this bill provides an opportunity for utilities to require consumers to pre-pay for large utility power plants, regardless of whether the project is ever completed.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? CWIP creates a situation where the public bears almost all the risk of something going wrong during the 10+ years of planning and construction of a nuclear power plant, with no guarantee that the project will ever produce electricity.

In South Carolina, CWIP took $9 Billion from consumers for a nuclear plant expansion. The project was never completed and did not benefit consumers.  

PSC and OPC Overhaul Bill: SB 1280 (Senator Mike Cierpiot)

This bill would dramatically change utility ratemaking in Missouri by tipping the scales toward monopoly utilities during proceedings before the Missouri Public Service Commission. Missouri consumers’ official representative, the Office of the Public Counsel (OPC), would lose much of its independence, unreasonably politicizing the office. OPC’s ability to appeal MoPSC decisions would be severely restricted.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Utilities are already assured an opportunity to earn a corporate profit of at least 9.4% and do not need any additional advantages in securing rate increases before the MO PSC.

The Office of Public Counsel, representing and protecting the interests of the Missouri public, plays an indispensable role in ensuring that consumer interests are heard. Their activities have saved ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Any limitation on the OPC’s powers will enhance the power of the utilities at the expense of Missouri’s ratepayers.

Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”): SB 805 (Senator Rusty Black)

This legislation would give local utilities a monopolistic right to prevent other investors from competitively bidding on their transmission projects unless the local utility has decided that it will not construct the project.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? “Blocking new entrants from competing on transmission projects  . . . (is) an anti-consumer, anti-free market policy that costs consumers billions of dollars in higher electricity rates,” Paul Cicio, Chair of the Electricity Transmission Competition Coalition.

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Consumers Council urges the MSD Board of Trustees to Adopt a Lower Rate Increase

On November 9, 2023, the MSD Board of Trustees will determine how high they will increase their rates over the next four years. The MSD Staff has proposed a 4-year wastewater rate increase which would increase consumers costs by 32.30%. Alternatively, in a minority report, four rate commissioners have recommended a 24.18% rate increase. They stated, “There is a cost to being overly conservative, and in this case, the cost is being borne by those who are least able to afford it in our population. As such, this overly conservative policy places an unfair burden on certain classes of ratepayers within the District.”

Consumers Council is advocating for the adoption of the minority report. We appeared before the MSD Board of Trustees on October 26, 2023 and will also be present at the meeting on November 9, 2023. We urge all who are affected by the proposed rate increase to attend that meeting and make comments on how higher MSD rates will affect you.

The MSD proposed rate and its affect on consumers was recently covered by Elliott Davis on Fox 2’s You Paid for It segment. Sandra Padgett, Executive Director of Consumers Council, points out that the proposed rate hike will add to the financial burden of those who are already struggling to pay their utility bills.

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MO PSC Approves Evergy’s Amended Application Seeking Tariff Revisions to TOU Program

On September 27, 2023, the Missouri Public Service Commission approved Evergy’s request to revise its Time-of-Use (“TOU”) program. The default TOU rate for Evergy customers will now be the low differential Peak Adjustment, instead of the high differential default TOU previously mandated.

Consumers Council has expressed concerns about TOU default rates, especially when customers are not provided with enough education and sufficient time to enable them to change their behavior and adjust to different rates applied to energy consumption at different times of the day.

In the most recent Ameren rate case, we argued against mandating time-based rates, saying that making them the default choice for consumers “has the potential to cause increased cost to those who can least afford it.”

“At particular risk are seniors, families with children under five, and those with medical need for air conditioning,” Jacqueline Hutchinson, Director of Advocacy, said in written testimony. “Shifting these customers to a potentially higher rate without their knowledge, with suggestions that they should not be using their air conditioning during the hottest part of the day, could lead to increased health risks.”

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Ameren rates will be going up. The question is: Who will pay, and how much?

The state authorized Ameren last month to raise rates enough to boost revenue by nearly 9% or about $220 million a year. The parties discussed at a hearing on Thursday how to divide the costs between residential and industrial customers.

“It’s just a matter of how do you split the pie,” said John Coffman, a lawyer who advocates on utility issues for the Consumers Council of Missouri, describing the case ahead of the hearing. “That’s the one main issue that has not been resolved.”

The increases will take effect Feb. 28.

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Missouri regulators, worried Spire is stoking fear, order the company to write letter to customers

The PSC’s motion Thursday said that Spire’s recent messaging to its regional customers — including emails and letters sent with bills — “appear to reflect an attempt by Spire to mobilize public opinion, through fear, in order to potentially pressure federal authorities” “We have heard a lot of fearmongering lately, much of it coming from Spire, itself, that residents of St. Louis are going to lose their natural gas service this winter,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said at the meeting. “I think it’s time to turn down the rhetoric and examine the facts.”


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Sign up to stay up to date with the latest news on efforts to protect the communities that depend on the STL Pipeline.

Nearly 650,000 homes and businesses in eastern Missouri rely on reliable, affordable natural gas from Spire STL Pipeline to fuel their lives. Learn more about the potential impact to the St. Louis community without the STL Pipeline. On September 14, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an  emergency certificate to allow the STL Pipeline to keep operating for 90-days. That certificate will expire December 13, 2021.

Sign up below to stay up to date with the latest news on efforts to protect the communities that depend on the STL Pipeline.

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Utility rates could increase for more than 1 million Missouri customers next year

Low-income households, particularly in communities of color, spend a greater share of their income on utilities, according to several research studies. A report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, for instance, found Black households spend 43% more on energy costs than white households.

“Why does the bottom line have to affect people of low income the most? The cost is rolling directly down to consumers from low-income, predominantly Black and brown communities.”

Virtual public hearings in Ameren Missouri’s rate case will be held from Oct. 5 to 8.

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