Laclede Gas: Rate Case Settlement Near

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 20, 2013

Laclede Gas Co. has an agreement in principle with the Missouri Public Service Commission staff and Office of Public Counsel to settle its request to boost natural gas rates by $48.4 million.

The utility filed notice of the agreement with the PSC on Monday, and said it would “resolve all outstanding matters” in the case. Terms were not disclosed.

A formal stipulation and agreement or an update on the status of negotiations with PSC staff and Office of Public Counsel will be filed by June 3, Laclede said.

That is the same date as the first of three scheduled public hearings on Laclede’s proposed rate increase. It is anticipated the hearings will be held as planned.

The St. Louis-based utility filed for a rate increase on Dec. 21 to recover investments in its 16,000-mile gas pipeline system.

As proposed, the average monthly bill for residential customers would increase by $4.93.

In a related Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Laclede said prompt resolution of the rate case would allow parties to focus attention on the company’s proposed $1.04 billion purchase of Missouri Gas Energy — a transaction that will almost double its presence in the state.

PSC approval of the transaction is required.

Separately, Laclede’s parent company, Laclede Group Inc., on Monday announced the planned public offering of up to 8.7 million common shares of stock to help fund the Missouri Gas Energy purchase.

Laclede also expects to grant underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 1.3 million additional shares.

The company, which had 22.7 million shares outstanding as of April 26, had said it would issue a combination of debt and equity to finance the Missouri Gas Energy purchase.

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