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Spire to lower gas rates under Mo. rate case decision

Missouri regulators granted Spire Inc. utilities Spire Missouri Inc. and Missouri Gas Energy a 9.8% return on equity based on the midpoint of recommendations from public utility regulation consultants as well as factors such as national averages, the growing economy and anticipated growth in interest rates, according to a Feb. 21 order from the Missouri Public Service Commission.

The commission also approved a weather normalization rider that would make up for effects of weather fluctuations on customer use, given that "weather variations cause the greatest variations in revenues for the companies," according to the order. However, the commission rejected Spire's proposed revenue stabilization mechanism, as Spire failed to prove the mechanism is needed for revenue recovery or to provide incentives for usage conservation.

In a Feb. 22 statement, Spire said that while it is still analyzing the impact of the rate case results, it will push through with a rate decrease beginning March 28. "The outcome of this case will help us recover our incremental costs, and by becoming the first Missouri utility to share the benefits of the tax reduction, we can still pass along a net rate decrease for our customers," said Steve Lindsay, executive vice president and COO of distribution operations and gas utilities at Spire.

The commission's order does not yet quantify the exact rate changes. Spire Missouri and Missouri Gas Energy in April 2017 filed to raise its base rate by a total of $108.5 million, with the proposed increases for both utilities based on a 10.35% ROE.