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Empire District Electric looks to recoup expenses

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Joplin-based Empire District Electric Co. announced May 31 it has asked the Missouri Public Service Commission for a rate increase among its roughly 215,000 customers.

A stipulation and agreement was reached May 27, while the case itself was filed in September, according to a company news release.

Empire District is seeking an annual revenue increase of approximately $18.7 million, or 4.7 percent. If passed, residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month would see a monthly rate increase of about $3.52.

Empire District President-Elect Brad Beecher said he recognizes the timing of the rate increase - which could take effect as early as June 15 pending commission approval - comes at a rough time for its Joplin area customers.

"We fully realize the unfortunate timing of this announcement in light of the terrible devastation in Joplin from the tornado just a little over a week ago," Beecher said in the release. "This case was filed eight months ago to recover expenses from building projects we began in 2005."

He said steps are being taken to find ways to recover expenses connected to the May 22 tornado.

"We have suspended our shareholder dividend for the remainder of the year and are exploring various avenues for recovering costs associated with the tornado damage to our electrical system," Beecher added.

In the Springfield Business Journal story "Businesses dig out from Joplin tornado", SBJ Reporter Brian Brown reported that roughly 11,000 of Empire District's customers were without power as of May 26. A May 31 news release from Empire said company officials believed that services had been restored to all customers able to receive them.

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