The Missouri Public Service Commission approved a $3.4 million raise in annual revenues for a portion of Aquila Networks’ gas utility operations. Aquila originally had sought to increase revenues by $6.4 million but agreed in a settlement with PSC staff, the Office of the Public Counsel and other stakeholders, to reduce its request by $3 million.

The 6.7% increase, which is associated with reliability and safety investments in the gas distribution system and to cover increased operating costs, is the company’s first since 1993, for 48,000 of its Missouri gas customers. The rate hike is expected to take effect May 3 for northern and southern system customers in the former Missouri Public Service (MPS) area and on July 1 for customers in Aquila’s St. Joseph gas region.

“We believe this settlement is a reasonable resolution of the rate proceedings,” said Jon Empson, Aquila’s senior vice president of regulated operations.

A typical residential natural gas customer in Aquila Networks-MPS Northern or Southern System who uses 79,000 cubic feet of gas a year will see their gas bill increase by about $3.84 a month or $46.11 a year. For a typical residential customer using 85,300 cubic feet of gas a year in the Aquila Networks-L&P system, gas bills will increase by $7.82 a month or $93.88 a year.

Under the terms of the regulatory agreement, Aquila agreed to provide $135,000 annually for various energy efficiency, weatherization and low income assistance programs. The agreement also calls for Aquila to not seek to place an infrastructure system replacement surcharge on customer bills prior to the effective date of Aquila’s next natural gas general rate increase case.

Aquila provides electricity and gas to a total of 1.3 million customers in Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

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