Oronogo voters will be asked to approve sale of city’s natural gas system

ORONOGO, Mo. – The City of Oronogo is asking voters to approve the sale of its natural gas system. We spoke with the city and Spire on why the city wants to sell and what it could mean for residents if approved.

Mayor Charles Wilkins says there’s a number of reasons the city wants to sell the utility to Spire, such as continued maintenance costs. “With the increased regulations, increased training, Spire is a large corporation, they’re in most of the communities surrounding us and with their expertise and ability, it will cut down the workload on our public works officials.”

Mayor Wilkins says they were approached by two utility companies in 2019, and the council decided to go with Spire’s offer to buy the system. As for billing, Mayor Wilkins says residents shouldn’t see a significant difference. “The bills will be very similar in pricing, where our bills change month-to-month based on spot prices of natural gas, Spire’s is regulated by the state and so they can’t change prices as often as we have to based on pricing.”

Officials with Spire agree with Mayor Wilkins on billing, saying the biggest change residents will notice is the bill itself, will look different. As for other changes, Spire’s Director of Business Development, Brenda Linderer, says they’re not planning anything big, right now. “We are anticipating maybe sometime down the road upgrading their metering equipment into a more automated meter reading device, but currently, no specific plans to make any changes to the system.”

If voters approve the sale on Tuesday, it won’t be an overnight change. Spire then has to go to Missouri’s Public Service Commission to get approval to add Oronogo to its service area. “That can take awhile, we’re not quite sure, it could be anywhere probably from six to eight months before the process is totally finalized as far as getting approval from the PSC.”

If approved, spire would pay the city $620,000 for the system. Mayor Wilkins says they’re not spending that money yet, but are looking at things it could pay for, like improvements to city hall and other projects in the city. “We’re also wanting to do some things with parks to help improve our parks to give our residents more places for recreation.”