Some Missouri utility companies have aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced according to State Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar). A Senate interim committee he’s chairing will begin soon to studing regulations and ratemaking of electric, water, sewer and gas utilities in other states.

Senator Ed Emery (photo courtesy; Missouri Senate)

Senator Ed Emery (photo courtesy; Missouri Senate)

“The natural gas industry has pipes in the ground that are decades old. We know that in the water industry, we have pipes in the ground that are over 100 years old. Some of it is still wooden pipe. There are a lot of possible infrastructure problems that lie around out there,” said Emery. “The question is how can we balance that infrastructure maintenance with the cost of energy and utilities, whether it’s water, natural gas, electricity or sewer? That’s the challenge.”

Upon review, the panel will make recommendations for legislation to deal with how utility companies are regulated and how they are allowed to charge consumers.

Some proposed regulation changes were offered this year, but didn’t make it through the Senate. Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) led filibusters to block the measures, saying they would have increased consumer rates and calling for more oversight of utility companies.

Emery says utility company profits don’t always accurately reflect the overall picture of utilities in Missouri.

“There are numbers that, if you just look at that number, they’re not fully reflective of what happens in the operational environment or what happens in the Wall Street environment when companies have to take on debt or are currently managing debt and how much that costs the customers,” said  Emery.

Romine will be serving on the committee, along with Senators Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City), Gina Walsh (D-St. Louis) and Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane).

The committee must issue its recommendations by the end of the year.