JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, Nov. 18 -- The Missouri Public Service Commission issued the following news release on Nov. 17, 2021:
To reflect estimated changes in the wholesale cost of natural gas as well as a change in the company's Actual Cost Adjustment (ACA) factor, natural gas customers of The Empire District Gas Company d/b/a Liberty (Empire) will see natural gas rates change under a filing that takes effect on December 1, 2021.
The ACA factor is a mechanism which tracks any over-collection or under-collection of actual natural gas costs over a 12 month period. The net over- or under-collected balances are subsequently either refunded or collected the next year.
Empire's current ACA period (September 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021) includes costs associated with the February 2021 Cold Weather Event (Winter Storm Uri) which had a significant impact on certain natural gas prices. Empire stated that the rise in gas prices increased Empire's cost to serve its customers. In total, Empire stated its cost of gas for Winter Storm Uri during this period was approximately $31.2 million as compared to a typical February of approximately $1.7 million, and $15.4 million annually.
The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a request filed by Empire extending the ACA recovery period from 12 months to five years in the South System and three years in the North and Northwest Systems, thereby spreading the costs from the February 2021 Cold Weather Event over a longer period of time. Empire stated that recovering the costs in the typical fashion would be unduly burdensome to its customers.
North System: Residential customers currently pay approximately $0.36 per Ccf (per hundred cubic feet) of natural gas. Under this filing, the rate will increase to approximately $0.72 per Ccf. The North System includes the cities of Chillicothe, Marceline and Trenton.
South System: Residential customers currently pay approximately $0.39 per Ccf (per hundred cubic feet) of natural gas. Under this filing, the rate will increase to approximately $0.97 per Ccf. The South System includes the cities of Clinton, Lexington, Marshall and Sedalia.
Northwest System: Residential customers currently pay approximately $0.33 per Ccf (per hundred cubic feet) of natural gas. Under this filing, the rate will increase to approximately $0.64 per Ccf. The Northwest System includes the communities of Rock Port, Maryville and Tarkio.
The cost of natural gas from wholesale suppliers generally makes up approximately 50% to 55% of a customer's total monthly natural gas bill. The wholesale cost of natural gas (the cost your local natural gas company must pay to its suppliers for natural gas) is not regulated by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The wellhead cost of natural gas is unregulated and is primarily driven by supply, demand and the weather. The Missouri Public Service Commission does conduct an annual regulatory review to ensure that regulated natural gas companies make prudent decisions in securing natural gas supplies for their customers.
What you can do to help manage your utility bill:
* Add attic insulation if necessary.
* Place weather stripping around doors, use plastic film covering and caulk windows to keep heat from escaping from your home.
* Change or replace furnace filters each month when dirty.
* Have your chimney checked for blockage.
* Close fireplace dampers when the fireplace is not being used.
* Have your heating system checked and tuned-up if needed.
* Place an approved insulated cover-jacket around the hot water heater.
* Consider getting professional help for any projects that are beyond your capabilities.
* Contact your local utility company to ask about energy saving tips and programs.
Empire serves approximately 43,500 natural gas customers in Missouri.
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Case No. GR-2022-0127 (https://efis.psc.mo.gov/mpsc/Docket.asp?caseno=GR-2022-0127)