If approved in full, Liberty’s request would raise by $12.76 per month — 9.64% — the bill of its typical electric customer in Missouri, defined as someone using around 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. The increase would recover the Joplin-based utility’s recent investment in wind turbines, solar, smart meters, infrastructure upgrades and more.
Public hearings will be held Nov. 15-18 on a rate increase Liberty Utilities has pending before state regulators.
The hearings will be conducted virtually by WebEx and telephone conference, and also streamed live on the Missouri Public Service Commission’s website at psc.mo.gov.
Liberty filed a request with the PSC in May to increase gross annual electric revenues by what is now estimated to be $50 million.
If approved in full, Liberty’s request would raise by $12.76 per month – 9.64% – the bill of its typical electric customer in Missouri, defined as someone using around 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. The increase would recover the Joplin-based utility’s recent investment in wind turbines, solar, smart meters, infrastructure upgrades and more.
The request will be reviewed by the staff of the Missouri PSC and the Missouri Office of Public Counsel, which will make recommendations to the commissioners. A decision is not expected until the spring.
To attend the virtual public hearing by telephone, at the time of the hearing, call toll-free 1-855-718-6621, listen to the prompt and enter the meeting number (access code) and the password of 0312, followed by the pound sign, #.
To participate by video/internet, visit the website www.webex.com.
You can also download the Cisco WebEx meetings application on a mobile device, laptop, desktop or tablet before the hearing and join the meeting at the hearing time by entering the corresponding access code and password listed below.
Members of the public who want to provide statements for the virtual public hearing should sign up by sending their first and last name, phone number, email address and the hearing that they wish to attend to email@example.com or by calling 1-800-392-4211 by 5 p.m. the day before the hearing.
A PSC staff conducted question-and-answer session will be held at the beginning of each virtual public hearing. The formal virtual public hearing will begin at the conclusion of the question-and-answer session. Virtual public hearings will be held at:
• Noon, Nov. 15. The access code is 1778 21 4312.
• 6 p.m., Nov. 17. The access code is 1776 00 3784.
• 6 p.m., Nov. 18. The access code is 1776 48 0348.
Liberty has spent several years building 69 wind turbines at its North Fork Ridge Wind Farm in Barton County, another 69 turbines at its Kings Point Wind Farm near Golden City and another 139 turbines at its Neosho Ridge Wind Farm north of Parsons, Kansas.
Together, the three wind farms produce 600 megawatts of power for the utility and are a key part of its transition to renewable energy. The three wind farms represent an overall investment of $1.2 billion.
Under Missouri regulatory rules, utilities are not allowed to ask for a rate increase until the investment is “used and useful,” meaning it is online and fully operational, which the wind farms are now, according to company officials.
The rate request also includes recovery for $43.5 million the company has invested in smart meters for its Missouri customers and several million it has invested in its first solar farm.
Smart meters are digital meters that, when fully installed, allow customers to access near real-time information about their energy usage.
Earlier this year, Liberty also completed a 2.2-megawatt solar farm near Prosperity in Jasper County. Liberty officials have said the solar farm is a pilot project and that more solar operations are planned around the region.
Liberty officials had initially also filed a request at the same time and as part of the same rate case to increase revenue by an additional $29 million to recover the cost of natural gas during the Arctic weather in February, when Midwest utilities experienced record price spikes.
It would have added $7.08 per month for 13 years, which is more than $84 per year, or more than $1,000 total for that same typical customer.
However, because of legislation passed earlier this year in Missouri and signed by the governor, Liberty said it will pursue recovery of those costs separately, through an alternative method of recovery called “securitization,” if that is approved by the PSC.
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