Laclede customers protest proposed gas bill hike
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis – Opponents of a proposed Laclede Gas rate increase packed a Missouri Public Service Commission hearing Wednesday.
Laclede wants to raise its rates by about $4 per month for each of its 630,000 customers.
Company spokesman George Csolak says the request has to do with higher equipment and labor costs, not rising gas prices.
"These are costs that are associated with maintaining our 15,000 mile distribution system, all the pipes that run underground to go to people's homes and all the commercial businesses," Csolak said. "It covers the cost of materials and upkeep for maintaining that system."
Critics of Laclede Gas say the proposal will hurt low-income and elderly people.
Missouri State Senator Joan Bray, D-St. Louis, criticized both the Public Service Commission and Laclede for keeping mum on the details of the plan.
"We all know that a deal's been made," Bray said. "But we don't know what we're testifying about in that deal, and it's very odd talking about something that we don't really know what we're talking about."
The Missouri Public Service Commission has the final say on any rate increase, though it's not clear when the panel may act.