Empire District Electric has filed a rate case application (Docket ER-2014-0351) with the Missouri Public Service Commission, seeking (among other things) approval to raise its fixed monthly charge by 50% for residential customers and small commercial customers, with significantly higher increases in fixed monthly charges for certain other non-residential customers. For “large power” customers, Empire District Electric seeks to raise the fixed monthly charge from $248 to $3,790. Empire District Electric also included in its proposal suggestions for improving the “economic efficiency” of rate design, generally advocating for “unbundled” charges that individually reflect system costs. It specifically suggested that demand charges should be considered for current volumetric-only rate schedules, and that residential and small commercial rates be subject to a decoupling rider.
Empire District Electric’s proposal generally falls in line with proposals filed in recent months by other investor-owned electric utilities, in that IOUs are increasingly focusing on raising fixed monthly charges (as opposed to volumetric charges), which has the effect of eroding the appeal to customers of energy efficiency and distributed generation.