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Branson Tri-Lakes News News Free - Empire rates to change

Empire rates to change

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Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 4:14 pm | Updated: 4:17 pm, Tue Nov 20, 2012.

Empire District Electric Co. customers could see a slightly higher bill soon, but the net result is still savings, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

The Missouri Public Service Commission approved Thursday an adjustment to Empire’s rates based on its Fuel Adjustment Clause.

“There’s an amount in our base rates for fuel,” said Amy Bass, spokeswoman for Empire. “If what we actually spend on fuel is less, we refund our customers. We’re still refunding, but slightly less than last year.”

The change is a net increase of about $1.45 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, or about the average monthly residential usage.

“Based on rates for fuel, we have an adjustment that tracks the cost of fuel and purchase power,” she said. “As fuel prices fluctuate, our customers see that reflection immediately.”

According to the Public Service Commission, staff verified that Empire’s actual fuel and purchased power costs match those included in the company’s calculated rates set in the request.

The new rates will become effective Dec. 1, according to the commission.

A similar request was made last year, but it resulted in about a $3.29 per month increase to average households.

The increase in fuel costs was attributed, in part, to last winter’s mild weather, according to Empire’s original filing.

The last rate change for White River Valley Electric Cooperative was in April 2009, and was increased due to the cost of power and an increase in operating costs, according to spokeswoman Cris Swaters.

Looking at the Fuel Adjustment Clause change as a rate increase, however, is off base, Bass said.

“It is kind of misleading,” she said.

The commission denied an earlier request for an interim rate increase Nov. 1. The commission determined Empire failed to meet its burden of proof to demonstrate the increase was “just and reasonable.”

Empire contended the increase was necessary to offset costs from the Joplin tornado.

If approved, that would have amounted to an approximate 1.5 percent increase for customers.

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