January 2, 2012

Missouri: MEDA announces legislation on renewable energy

Today the Missouri Energy Development Association (MEDA) announced it will propose renewable energy legislation during the next session of the Missouri Legislature in January in response to the recent renewable energy initiative petition filed by Renew Missouri. MEDA is also evaluating filing its own renewable energy ballot initiative.

"We are proposing legislation that will preserve Missouri's momentum of investing in renewable energy, while protecting Missourians from rate increases many times greater than what they approved when Prop C was passed in 2008," said Trey Davis, president of MEDA. "The initiative petition filed by Renew Missouri will increase electric rates to fund a government mandate for renewable energy and creates a new tax on Missourians to expand state government, but will largely benefit just a few renewable energy companies."

MEDA's legislation contrasts with Renew Missouri's proposed initiative petition. MEDA's proposal encourages development of regional renewable energy resources while limiting rate increases to no more than one percent for all customers. Renew Missouri's proposal would result in much higher rate increases for Missouri families and small business owners than what was approved in 2008. Different groups of customers pay significantly different amounts under Renew Missouri's proposal. Large industrial customers would pay only a fraction of what families and small businesses pay as a result of the rate subsidies built into Renew Missouri's proposal.

In 2007, Missouri's utilities helped pass the state's first renewable energy legislation by supporting the Green Power Initiative (SB54). Senate Bill 54 encouraged investment in renewable energy by creating a target of 11 percent of electricity generated by renewable resources by 2020 and by allowing Missouri residents and businesses to generate their own renewable energy. One year later, in 2008, Missouri utilities either supported or did not oppose Proposition C, an initiative petition which increased Missouri's renewable energy mandate to 15 percent by 2021. Proposition C also provided a 1 percent rate increase limit, protecting all Missourians from excessive rate increases as a result of renewable energy mandates.

"Missouri's electric utilities support renewable energy and have a demonstrated history of investing in electricity generated from wind, solar and hydro energy whenever it is in the best interest of the customers we serve," said Trey Davis, president of MEDA. "Our legislation supports significant investment in renewable energy resources in this region and is consistent with Proposition C passed by Missourians in 2008."

MEDA has been working diligently since 2008 to put into action Proposition C so that investment is promoted and consumers are protected. As recently as December 27, 2011, the Cole County Circuit Court ruled in favor of MEDA's argument that Proposition C provides a 1 percent rate increase limit, not 10 percent plus like was argued for by Renew Missouri, and that a utility may comply with the standard by purchasing renewable energy credits and facilitating a broad market within which the credits can be traded and consumer costs can be kept low.

MEDA's investor-owned electric members continue to be committed to developing renewable energy resources. Ameren Missouri is in its second year of offering millions of dollars of incentives to encourage small scale customer owned solar energy systems. Ameren is also contracting for over 100 MW of wind energy and building the largest landfill gas to energy project in a multi-state region. Ameren recently constructed a 100 kW solar array on its headquarters building in St. Louis to test different technologies and share this information with the public. The Empire District Electric Company has two purchase power agreements with wind farms delivering 255 MW of energy to its customers and runs a long-standing hydro facility delivering 16 MW of energy. KCP&L continues to encourage solar investments by offering a $2/watt rebate to customers and is producing 1.6 MW of landfill gas to energy in St. Joseph, MO. By the end of 2012, KCP&L will be delivering 540 MW of wind energy to its customers and is under contract for 63 MW of hydro energy starting in 2014.

"At a time when states around the U.S. are considering repealing or reducing renewable energy mandates and the federal government is scaling back renewable energy subsidies, Renew Missouri is asking Missourians to do even more for the renewable energy industry. We support renewable energy, but cannot support an effort that will negatively impact so many for the benefit of just a few," said Davis. "Our legislation is consistent with the voter's wishes in 2008 and we look forward to working with legislators and stakeholders to pass this important energy policy initiative."

About MEDA: MEDA's primary members are investor-owned electric, gas, and water utility companies in the State of Missouri. The purpose of MEDA is to develop, organize, and promote measures that will advance the ability of investor-owned utilities to BUILD, MAINTAIN, PROTECT, and PROVIDE the utility infrastructure and services that are critical to the economic well being of all Missourians. 


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