Laclede Agrees to Forgo Gas Rate Hike

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 1, 2013

Gas-distribution rates would remain unchanged for Laclede Gas Co. customers under a settlement between the utility and consumer advocates that was submitted to the Public Service Commission on May 31.

The St. Louis-based gas utility had sought a $48.4 million rate increase in December that would have raised the typical residential customer bill an average of $4.93 a month.

But Laclede said it can live without an increase for now.

Instead, it is hoping PSC staff will focus attention on the company’s pending $975 million acquisition of Missouri Gas Energy, which requires regulatory approval.

“We believe we can continue to provide safe and reliable service for our customers without general rate increases at this time,” Laclede Gas president Steve Lindsey said in a statement.

The settlement was submitted to the PSC on Friday.

The commission has scheduled public hearings on Laclede’s rate request beginning Monday in St. Louis.

While customers’ overall bills would be unaffected if the settlement is approved, Laclede would be allowed add $14.8 million already being collected through an infrastructure surcharge to its gas-delivery rates.

Laclede also said it will continue to seek small adjustments to rates throughout the year to reflect changes in natural gas costs and to pay for additional pipeline safety upgrades.

The utility sells natural gas to 630,000 customers in the city of St. Louis and surrounding Missouri counties.

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