Spire Missouri program will help customers catch up on gas bills during COVID pandemic

    BRIEF

    A sign marks the exit of a drive-through coronavirus testing site at The Crossing in Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. The testing site was operated by the Missouri National Guard and part of the state's mobile testing initiative. (Photo by Tessa Weinberg)

    The natural gas supplier for more than 1 million Missouri customers will create a payment assistance program and allow up to 18 months to pay bills that have accumulated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Under the plan approved Thursday by the Missouri Public Service Commission, Spire Missouri will help customers who have lost jobs, lost income or been furloughed since March 1. Eligible customers who agree to a payment plan will receive a $100 credit on their bills and have up to $300 of their payments matched.

    Spire will dedicate $1 million to the program and up to $1 million will be redirected from an expired energy efficiency fund and another program designed to aid low-income families.

    Under the commission’s order, Spire for the next year will track its new expenses, bad debts, costs of assistance programs, overtime and lost revenue due to waived late fees and connection charges.

    The accounting will help determine whether rates need to be increased for the utility to maintain its return on investment allowed under state law.

    Spire Missouri East provides gas service to approximately 654,600 customers in St. Louis and nine counties in eastern Missouri. Spire Missouri West provides natural gas service to approximately 522,000 customers in 29 western Missouri counties, an area that includes the cities of Kansas City, Springfield and St. Joseph