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Renew Missouri Recaps Energy Legislation and Looks to Next Priorities

Renew Missouri, which advocates for alternative, renewable energy in Missouri particularly in the legislative arena, summarized the fate of renewable energy standards and an early site permit for a proposed nuclear project in the 2011 Missouri General Assembly on June 9 in Springfield.  Josh Jones, who also serves on the ONE Board, made the presentation, with guest presentations from Brian Hamburg, a local attorney serving on the City Utilities Board; Zachary Wyatt, a Republican in the Missouri House from the Kirksville area who supports renewable energy development; and Joe Maxwell, former Democratic lieutenant governor and former member of the House.

As previously reported, Missouri's original Prop C was considerably weakened in the SCR1 bill signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon in February. It removed the geographic sourcing aspect of the standard, which stripped it of much of its potential for creating Missouri jobs. Utilities may comply with Missouri's RES by paying to outsource development of renewable energy projects outside the state.

HB 613 created a partial fix for the weakened Prop C by reducing the requirement for utilities to obtain power from renewable sources from 20% to 15% by 2021. However, in the final minutes of the session, HB 613 was removed by its sponsor. That was primarily because of major push back from legislators about a provision to pave the way for an early site permit to Ameren Missouri for its proposed second nuclear reactor at Callaway Power Plant. So nuclear was once again put on hold but at the expense of RES.

Zachary Wyatt noted that one of the reasons he supports the development of renewable energy in the state, particularly more wind farms, is the hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars, school districts receive in areas with wind farms.

Brian Hamburg, left, spoke about the "pay as you save' idea he presented to CU that has morphed into the proposed CU Advantage Program. Although not yet funded, the program would provide incentives for landlords and renters to get energy audits and make energy improvements at essentially no cost. That's good news for the 60,000 households in Springfield who rent. Brian also pointed out that in the next year, the CU Board will have four slots open.  He encouraged Springfield residents with "open minds" about renewable energy and energy efficiency to apply for those positions.

 

Recap of Energy Legislation in 2011 Missouri General Assembly

Thanks to Renew Missouri for providing the following recap of energy legislation in the recently completed General Assembly.

RES modified - Missouri lawmakers rolled back key provisions of the voter-approved renewable electricity standard (RES) this year, effectively driving jobs and economic development out of the state. SCR1, which went into effect in late February, removed the requirement that utilities generate renewable electricity, like wind, solar and biomass, from in-state projects or from projects from surrounding states delivering power into Missouri. SCR1's passage allows utilities to comply with Missouri's RES by paying to outsource development of renewable energy projects to places like California, South Dakota and Canada.

In response to the SCR1 vote, House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-106) created the Special Committee on Renewable Energy, chaired by Rep. Jason Holsman (D-45), to focus on creating a fix to Prop C. In 2008, voters passed Prop C, which set a requirement for utilities to obtain 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2021 and with preference to renewable energy sold to Missouri customers, to jump start in-state renewable development. Rep. Holsman was able to pass HB 613 out of committee with a 10-0 vote. While HB 613 would have lowered the 15% goal and resulted in significantly less renewable energy than Prop C, the bill would have established certainty for the wind, solar and biomass industries.

Hold off on nuclear - In dramatic fashion, on the last day of session, a deal was struck between Ameren, Missouri's largest utility, and Missouri's largest industrial energy users, to pass HB 613 as part of an energy omnibus bill containing many other amendments. The bill included an early site permit for the proposed nuclear reactor, Callaway 2, and also would have shifted funding for the Office of Public Council from the taxpayers to theratepayers.

Several senators protested voting on such a large bill in the final hour of session, and the sponsor decided to bring an end to the debate with 10 minutes left in session. However, this energy omnibus bill could resurface in special session this summer.

During the session, Renew Missouri began laying a foundation to establish interconnection standards that would make it easier and more cost effective to connect larger industrial renewable energy projects to the grid. Rep. T.J. Berry (R-35) sponsored HB 877, the Electric Generating Facilities Bill, which had a hearing in the Utilities Committee but did not come up for a vote. The bill would have reduced uncertainty and risk for renewable energy developers by streamlining and simplifying the procedural and technical process required to connect a project ot the grid.

 

 
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