Jan. 16—The Missouri Public Service Commission will hold local public hearings this week, including one in Joplin, on water and sewer rate cases filed by Missouri American Water Co.
On July 1, Missouri American filed water and sewer rate cases with the PSC seeking to increase annual water and sewer revenues statewide by $99.6 million, or 25.7%. Missouri American said it wants to recover nearly $770 million in investments it has either completed or planned between January 2021 and May 2023.
If approved in full by the PSC, the bill for a typical water customer, defined as someone using an average of 4,200 gallons monthly, would increase $12 or $13 per month.
The bill for a typical wastewater customer would stay about the same, and the bill for flat-rate wastewater customers would increase by $3 to $10 per month, depending on the service area.
Missouri American provides water service to Joplin, but not sewer service.
Current bills also include an adjustment for the Water and Sewer Infrastructure Act to help pay for some completed projects. Under the rate review process, these projects are reviewed and may be included in any new rates set by regulators.
The rate request is expected to take up to 11 months, meaning new rates would not go into effect until late spring 2023, five years after the last change in base water rates for its customers, Missouri American noted in the announcement.
The PSC has planned both in-person and virtual local public hearings.
The Joplin hearing will be held Thursday at the Robert Plaster Hall Auditorium on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. The hearing starts at 6 p.m., beginning with a public information/question-and-answer session conducted by the PSC staff, followed by the commission receiving testimony from the public.
Other in-person hearings will be held Jan. 24 in St. Joseph and Jan. 25 in St. Louis.
Virtual hearings are planned for:
—Tuesday, at noon.
—Wednesday, at 6 p.m.
—Jan. 26, at 6 p.m.
To attend a virtual local public hearing by telephone, at the time of the hearing call toll-free 1-855-718-6621, listen to the prompt and enter the access code 2455 943 6681 for the Jan. 17 hearing, the code 2456 839 5072 for the Jan. 18 hearing, and the code 2451 319 5401 for the Jan. 26 hearing, followed by #. If prompted for a password, enter 0303.
To attend a virtual local public hearing by WebEx video, visit the website www.webex.com. Participants also can download the Cisco WebEx meetings application on their mobile device, laptop, desktop or tablet prior to the hearing and join the meeting at the hearing time by entering the corresponding access code and password listed above.
Members of the public who wish to participate in the WebEx question-and-answer session or make a comment to the PSC during a WebEx hearing should register by sending their first and last name, phone number and email address to email@example.com or call 1-800-392-4211 by 5 p.m. the day before the hearing. Any person may comment at any of the hearings, but they are encouraged to attend the hearing corresponding to the location nearest their service area for the most relevant information. Comments at all local public hearings will be limited to five minutes per person.
Hearing information and participation requirements are also being mailed out by the company.
The company said in a statement that investments in the rate case include the replacement or installation of 280 miles of water and wastewater pipelines and the upgrading of treatment plants, storage tanks, wells, pumping and lift stations, fire hydrants and meters.
Among those projects was the replacement of the high-service pump station building and its pumps in Joplin.
The utility this spring received a building permit from the city of Joplin for a new high-service pump station at its treatment plant at 21st Street and Murphy Avenue in Joplin. The pump station will replace units in service since 1983.
The project includes a new building to house the pump. The project is valued at $6.6 million, according to the building permit, with completion projected for the end of the year.
Missouri American also upgraded a series of water lines in the Royal Heights area of northern Joplin from 2 inches wide to 8 inches, and company officials have said other areas of the city were the focus of projects, including upgrades on the south side of town to be completed by the end of the year, and an area near Connor Avenue and A and B streets near Main Street set for 2023.
The utility also has been replacing its lead service lines in areas where they still exist around the state.
Missouri American Water is a subsidiary of American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing water and wastewater services to approximately 1.5 million people in the state.