Back in 2008, the voters in Missouri passed the Missouri Clean Energy Act (also called Proposition C). ] It created a renewable energy standard for the state, requiring the state’s utilities to use 15 percent renewable energy by 2021. Supporters of the initiative hoped it would force utilities to build wind and solar plants in the state, but the utilities have fought tooth and nail to avoid costly new investments. Now, those fights are coming to a head in Court.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard argument in November over whether utilities can purchase credits from out of state to meet their quotas. The law initially included geographic limits, but those limits were removed through a series of maneuvers by the legislature and public utility commission. Without the geographic limits, utilities have been allowed to meet their goals by purchasing electricity from out of state. For example, a major utility named Ameren has met its obligations by purchasing electricity from a hydroelectric power plant just across the border in Iowa. That complies with the law, but many supporters of the law say Ameren is violating the spirit of the law by failing to make investments in its own renewable capacity. Environmental activists have sued to get the geographic limits reinstated.
At the Missouri Supreme Court, the state’s utility commission claimed that because it had put forward another renewable energy standard the fight over the Missouri Clean Energy Act was moot. The environmental groups argued that it was improper for the utility commission to remove the geographic limits put in place by voters, as that wiped out a key component of the law. In a separate complaint filed with the public utility commission more recently, environmentalists are also disputing how utilities calculate the size of the generators they are using (small units are preferred in the law) and how utilities calculate their cost cap (the law prevents utilities from having to spend too much to comply).
One thing this illustrates is how utility companies in Missouri are currently utilizing contracts with other utilities to purchase the type of electricity they want to have. That option is available to many utility customers as well, and it can often reduce electricity cost while introducing predictability. If you want to learn more about your options as a consumer, contact EnergyCare today.