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Your Opinion: It's not just about natural gas

Your Opinion: It's not just about natural gas

June 30th, 2013 by Dan Shaul, state director, Missouri Grocers Association in News

Dear Editor:

There is a bill on Gov. Nixon's desk that could have a massive impact upon Missouri's economy and your savings. SB240 allows gas companies to raise rates and surcharges while limiting regulatory oversight designed to keep rates in check.

The impact of this bill, however, goes beyond natural gas. It would raise the cost of everything you buy, and even the food you eat.

It is because of those far-reaching economic implications that the Missouri Grocers Association opposes SB240. We urge Missouri consumers to join us in asking Gov. Nixon to veto this bill.

SB240 would raise everyone's natural gas rates in multiple ways.

First, the legislation allows the monopoly gas companies to force paying customers to cover 90 percent of unpaid gas bills.

This means gas companies would have little incentive to seek payment for debts, because they can just pass that burden on to paying customers. It also means your rate is going up to pay for someone else's gas.

In addition, companies can impose a 13 percent surcharge on top of the rates you are already paying.

The bill also allows companies to avoid regulatory review of their rates for up to five years.

This means that customers of Laclede and Missouri Gas Energy won't see the savings from that merger until 2018. Also, technological advances that should lower gas costs over the next five years would not affect your energy rates. The companies would not be obligated to pass those savings on to their customers.

Higher energy prices affect everyone, even your local grocery store.

If rates increase substantially, grocers and other businesses could be forced to raise the cost of food just to make ends meet.

These higher food costs would affect everyone's bottom line, not just those who use natural gas for energy. This is why the Missouri Grocers Association opposes SB240.

Please join us in opposing this unfair and costly legislation.

If the governor wants to stand with Missouri consumers, he should veto this bill. If he signs this bill into law, everyone pays the price.