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Empire District rate increase passes unanimously

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The Missouri Public Service Commission yesterday passed an electric rate increase requested by Joplin-based Empire District Electric Co. in September. A stipulation and agreement was reached May 27.

The rate change, effective June 15, would raise the bills of customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month to the tune of approximately $42.42 a year, or about $3.52 a month.

Empire District will receive an annual revenue increase of approximately $18.7 million, or 4.7 percent, which it would use to cover expenses related to its share of the Iatan 2 generating plant in Platte County and other system improvement included in the company's long-term energy plan, according to a news release from the PSC.

Empire District, the Missouri Public Service Commission, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Office of the Public Counsel, the state's utility consumer advocate, reached the agreement.

The city of Joplin, the Midwest Energy Users' Association and the Kansas City Power & Light Co. indicated to the commission they were not opposed, according to the release.

In a May 31 news release, Empire District recognized the timing of the rate increase coinciding with the May 22 tornado that hit Joplin.

"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."

The PSC noted that the tornado damage to the city factored into its decision.

"We are extremely mindful of the events that have occurred in Joplin.  Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in the devastating tornado and to those who are faced with the task of rebuilding," said PSC Chairman Kevin Gunn in the PSC release. "We approved today's agreement because it was unanimous in nature, including the support of the consumer advocate, and it was not opposed by the city of Joplin."[[In-content Ad]]

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