City of Monett asks federal agency to intervene because of electric rates from Liberty Utilities

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MONETT, Mo The city of Monett wants its power supplier to give customers a refund.

The city is asking a federal agency to step in and look at the electric rates being charged by Liberty Utilties.

CHELSEE KINGREY "We saw a giant jump in our bill." said Chelsee Kingrey, who lives in Monett.

At the end of July, the city had its annual meeting with Liberty Utilities-Empire District to discuss electric rate changes.

The rates were increased by 14%.

So if you used 1,000 kilowatts of electricity, it would cost you $132.54, compared to $119.27 before the raise.

"I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills." said Kingrey.

She said her bill went from around $120 per month last winter, to around $200 per month this winter.

Now the City of Monett has asked the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to intervene.

Skip Schaller the utilities superintendent for the city believes they are being overcharged.

"We filed the intervention because we feel like what they have, what they are offering was done rather quickly without much input from us." said Schaller.

Now a judge with FERC will review the case, and if they side with the city, that could mean some savings coming your way.

But Liberty Utilities says it is already working to lower rates for the city.

In a statement to KY3 news it says that it has requested a mid-year waiver of its formula protocols to implement a mid-year rate adjustment.

It added that it is waiting on FERC's approval for that rate adjustment.

Liberty Utilities says if it is approved, the rates will be dropped by around 4% off of the 14% increase from July.

But the city is not satisfied with that.

"That is part of the reason that we have filed with FERC is to try to get to the table and negotiate and try to get what we think is a fair settlement out of it." said Schaller.

"I hope that we really do see it back. I know a lot of people around here have had a lot of trouble with the utility company and paying our bill." said Kingrey.

Liberty Utilities says it has filed a response to the city of Monett's request for FERC to intervene.

Monett says that when its contract is up with Liberty Utilities in 2020 the city will consider going independent for its electricity.

Here is the full statement from Liberty Utilities-Empire District:

“The City of Monett is a wholesale customer of Liberty Utilities – Empire District. As a wholesale customer, the city’s electric costs are composed of GFR (generation formula rates) and TFR (transmission formula rates). Rates are adjusted every July. Accumulated deferred income taxes (ADIT) are included in these rates and are collected retroactively. Liberty – Empire’s 2018 TFR and GFR annual updates were properly based on 2017 year-end company costs.

Liberty – Empire is committed to refunding its customers all over-collections resulting for the 2018 rate/contract year as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In order to accomplish this, Liberty – Empire filed a request on December 31, 2018 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to allow the Company to modify the TFR and GFR templates to allow excess and deficient ADIT to be appropriately reflected in rate base going forward. Essentially, Liberty – Empire requested a mid-year waiver of its formula protocols to implement a mid-year rate adjustment, effective January 1, 2019. Pending FERC approval, our request will provide customers with the benefit of decreased rates earlier than would otherwise be required under the current formula.

Liberty – Empire has already done what the City of Monett is requesting in its motion to intervene. If FERC approves Liberty – Empire’s filing, the City of Monett’s GFR will be reduced by approximately 3.4% and TFR will be reduced approximately 4.3%.

Liberty - Empire filed a response to FERC on February 6, 2019, regarding the City of Monett’s motion to intervene.”

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