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Soaring Natural Gas Prices for Customers in Southwest Missouri ” Missouri

November 24 – Natural gas rates are rising for residential and commercial customers in southwest Missouri, and the higher costs will be reflected in their bills this winter.

This week, the Missouri Public Service Commission announced that the half million Spire West customers in western Missouri who previously paid 79 cents per ccf for natural gas will see that rise to 92 cents per ccf.

A ccf is 100 cubic feet of natural gas and is a unit of measurement of consumption and how much more each customer will pay depends on their winter consumption.

The new tariffs will come into effect on November 29th.

Spire West’s customers are located in the west of the state, including customers in Barry, Barton, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald and Vernon counties.

“For the average consumer, this translates to an average monthly bill increase of $8.14, or 9.16%,” said Jason Merrill, spokesman for Spire.

According to the PSC, the increase is due to increases in the wholesale cost of natural gas, as well as a change in the company’s actual cost adjustment factor, which accounts for any over- or under-reporting of actual natural gas costs over a 12-month period. The over- or under-collected net balances are then either reimbursed or collected in the following year.

Wholesaler natural gas costs account for about 50% to 55% of a customer’s total monthly natural gas bill, Merrill said. In a statement, the PSC said the wholesale cost of natural gas is not regulated by the state and that the cost is “driven primarily by supply, demand and the weather.” The PSC conducts a review to ensure regulated natural gas companies like Spire are making prudent decisions in securing gas supplies to their customers.

This follows an announcement in November 2021 when Spire West customers saw gas costs double, rising to 79 cents from 40 cents per hundred cubic feet of natural gas consumed. That jump reflected the price surge the natural gas market has seen since a severe weather event in February 2021, Spire officials said, when gas traded at $200-$600/MMBtu, compared to normal prices in the $2-$6/MMBtu range. An MMBtu represents 1 million British thermal units and is a method used to measure natural gas for financial contracts.

The change represented an increase of approximately $24.36 per month, or 41.5%, for the typical residential natural gas customer, defined as someone consuming an average of 60 to 65 ccf per month.

Nongas increase

In April, Spire also filed a natural gas interest case with the Missouri PSC to seek a net increase in its natural gas revenues of approximately $151.9 million. Approximately $8.5 million of this is already collected as part of the infrastructure system replacement surcharge, which appears as a separate item on customer bills, for a total increase of $143.4 million.

Under this proposal, the typical western Missouri customer will see an increase of $10.95 per month, or 12.65%, if the rate proposal is fully approved, Merrill said.

A tariff case usually lasts 11 months.

Company officials said this is a separate “non-gas” case and reflects the recovery of Spire’s operating and maintenance costs and infrastructure investments and does not include the cost of the natural gas itself.

Andy Ostmeyer is the Metro editor at the Globe. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and has worked at the Globe for 38 years. His email address is [email protected]

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