UPDATE: Nixon signs energy efficiency legislation

Monday, July 13, 2009 | 11:31 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Electric companies will be able to charge Missouri customers for energy-savings initiatives under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The new law treats utility programs that reduce the demand for electricity — such as the giveaway of programmable thermostats or energy-efficient light bulbs — the same as efforts that increase the supply of electricity, such as the construction of a new power plant. In both cases, utilities will be able to recoup their costs from customers.

Utility officials and some consumer advocates said the new law ultimately should cost people less money. That's because the energy-savings programs are intended to prevent or delay the need for new power plants that would be more costly for customers to finance.

The law, which is to take effect Aug. 28, applies to Missouri's three publicly traded utilities — AmerenUE, Kansas City Power & Light and The Empire District Electric Co. — which serve nearly three-quarters of the state's population.

Nixon was joined by Kansas City Power & Light executives Monday for a ceremonial bill signing at a St. Joseph business that is working with the utility to install energy-efficient lighting. He also was touring a new chilled water plant at UMKC, which has been working with the local engineering firm Burns & McDonnell to improve its energy efficiency.

Burns & McDonnell and Kansas City Power & Light are some of Nixon's most generous campaign contributors. Last week, they each gave Nixon $10,000, the two largest donations stemming from a June 30 fundraiser in Kansas City. Nixon campaign consultant Ken Morley said there was no correlation between the timing of the donations and the bill signing.

Nixon also was expected to sign and veto dozens of other bills Monday as he faced an end-of-Tuesday deadline to take action on legislation passed during the 2009 session.

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