JOPLIN, Mo. - Regulators say an agreement that settles a Missouri Gas Energy rate request is unlikely to have much impact on customers' bills.
Gas company officials and state utility regulators said Thursday that the settlement will modify MGE's various rates but leave customers' bills mostly the same, The Joplin Globe reported.
MGE said the agreement will increase base rates by $7.8 million, but at the same time revenues from a replacement surcharge will decrease by nearly the same amount.
The agreement also will add some services to help low-income residents with higher winter bills. And MGE plans to offer a one-time program to help low-income customers with their bills from this winter, which included long stretches of record low temperatures.
Customers will see a 23-cent reduction in the monthly delivery charge for gas, from $28.10 to $27.87 between May and September. In October, the delivery charge will be split into a $23 fixed charge and an additional variable delivery charge that will be based on the customer's use.
"We appreciate all of the efforts in the give-and-take of negotiations to reach a reasonable agreement that's consistent with our shared interest in delivering safe and reliable natural gas service for customers efficiently and cost effectively," Steve Lindsey, president of Missouri Gas Energy, said in a statement.
MGE had initially asked to raise residential rates from $26.88 to $40.95 between November and March and then lower rates to $22.31 for the rest of the year, which would have effectively raised rates about $2.33 a month.
The Office of the Public Counsel, which represents consumer interests, asked the Missouri Public Service Commission to lower the company's rates to $16.50 a month for the entire year and add a volume-based rate of 16.49 cents for every 100 cubic feet of gas used. The agreement lowers the volume-based rate to 7.38 cents.
John Joines, head of the Economic Security Corp. and the Jasper County Public Housing Agency, testified at a hearing in February that MGE's initial rate request would hurt the low-income residents the agencies serve particularly hard.
On Thursday, Joines said he pleased with the new agreement.