Public Service Commission

Editor:
Daniel Jordan, Esquire

Filed rate is lawful rate. Brooks, et al. vs. The Empire District Electric Company, No. 32177 (Mo. App. S.D., June 18, 2013), Burrell, J.

Utility collected the rates on file with the Public Service Commission under a Commission order later found unlawful on procedural grounds only.  Plaintiffs sought relief based on previous rates.

Held:
“[R]ates are prima facie lawful until found otherwise upon the conclusion of the appeal process.”   Mandate did not reinstate previous rates found unlawful in commission order, and did not address rates set in commission order, and circuit court has no authority to determine rate was lawful for any period.  Therefore, petition did not state a claim against the utility in circuit court, and circuit court properly dismissed the petition.


Later tariff moots appeal of earlier tariff. In the Matter of the Determination of Carrying Costs for the Phase-In Tariffs of KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company AG Processing, Inc. vs. Missouri Public Service Commission, et al. No. 75437 (Mo. App. W.D., May 14, 2013), Mitchell, P. J.

Pending appeal of decision approving one tariff, Public Service Commission approved another tariff.

Held:
Enactment of new tariff superseding old tariff moots appeal of old tariff as to issues fact specific to old tariff and issues on appeal of new tariff. 

Superseded tariff cannot be corrected.  Appellant has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that rates are not just and reasonable.  Agency’s findings of fact are sufficient if they show which witness the commission believed and support agency’s conclusions of law.  Nothing limits amount of rate increase granted to amount of rate increase requested.  Missouri agency decision, excluding from utility’s rates the cost of distant transmission set by federal agency, did not constitute nullification of federal decision.  Phase in of increase was reasonable. 


Contracts were outside fuel adjustment clauses. State ex rel Union Electric Company D/B/A Ameren Missouri vs. Public Service Commission of The State of Missouri, et al. Nos. 75403 and 75404, (Mo. App. W.D., May 14, 2013), Martin, J.

When appellant missed out on sales to a large customer because an ice storm shut down the customer’s operations, appellant sought substitute buyers off-system, and passed through the costs under the fuel adjustment clause (“FAC”). 

Held:
The fixed costs attributable to a large customer were not part of the pass-through and appellant’s “opportunistic manipulation” of FAC provision for “long-term full and partial requirement sales” is contrary to statute. 

Statutes allow the rate schedules that govern appellant to include an FAC.  Under appellant’s FAC, fluctuations in the cost of appellant’s fuel to generate power raised and lowered the price of that power to customers on appellant’s retail system (“pass-through”).  The FAC’s pass-through provided a faster adjustment to rates than otherwise possible, benefitting customers when fuel costs dropped, and protecting appellant from rapid increases in fuel costs.  The result was an over collection that appellant must refund.