(The Center Square) – Spire natural gas customers in eastern Missouri should expect communication clarifying the possibility of service disruptions in December.
The Missouri Public Service Commission ordered Spire on Friday to provide customers information to “better inform the public about the continued operation of the Spire STL Pipeline.”
In early November, Spire warned customers of possible service outages after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower-court ruling on the pipeline. A decision by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) didn’t conduct a full and proper review before construction of the 65-mile pipeline.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) stated in a news release the St. Louis Board of Aldermen notified the organization of Spire’s customer communications and accused the utility of spreading “fear.” Spire’s emergency extension to operate the pipeline, granted by the FERC, expires on Dec. 13.
“Staff expresses concern that the communications described by the Board of Aldermen appear to reflect an attempt by Spire to mobilize public opinion, through fear, in order to potentially pressure federal authorities to act to temporarily or permanently extend the operating authority of the Spire STL Pipeline,” the commission stated in a media release.
In a Nov. 4 email to about 650,000 customers, Scott Carter, president of Spire Missouri, stated they should be aware and prepared for potential disruptions.
“We’re confident that we’ve done everything we can to demonstrate the critical role the pipeline plays in providing the St. Louis community with energy, but there are no guarantees it will operate beyond Dec. 13,” Carter said.
The PSC ordered Spire to prepare a letter to each customer to explain the gas supply as accurately as possible. The letter also must explain how future real-time communication will be made available and include suggested actions customers can take to reduce natural gas usage when temperatures fall.
The PSC gave Spire a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, Nov. 19, to submit drafts for review. The PSC is expected to file a notice Monday on whether Spire met the requirement and when customers will receive the information.
The PSC also ordered Spire to provide copies of all public and customer communication regarding the pipeline made since June 22. The PSC directed its staff to file a recommendation by Jan. 4, 2022, on whether Spire spread false and misleading communications to its customers and the public. Staff also is expected to report if Spire failed to ensure the availability of sufficient gas supplies for the upcoming winter season and any additional matters investigations might reveal.