Missouri Senate votes to reject part of renewable energy rule

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 9:26 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators voted Monday to reject part of the rules developed by utility regulators for a renewable energy mandate.

Voters in 2008 approved a law that requires investor-owned utilities to use increasing amounts of renewable energy sources to produce electricity and assigned the Public Service Commission to develop rules to implement the renewable energy requirement. The 2008 law requires investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy sources for at least 2 percent of their electricity by this year, 5 percent by 2014, 10 percent by 2018 and 15 percent by 2021.

Utilities, under the law, also cannot raise electric rates by more than 1 percent to comply with the renewable energy requirement.

Senators voted 29-2 to reject part of the rules developed by state regulators. At issue is a portion of the rule that requires the electricity from renewable energy sources be produced or sold in Missouri. Critics of the rule said that requirement goes beyond the law approved by voters.

Lawmakers said Monday they only were evaluating whether the administrative rules were proper. There was no discussion before the vote.

"This is one of the opportunities we have to make sure that people do not get by regulation that which they cannot get — or fail to get — by legislation," said Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville.

Utilities and some energy users contend that purchasing credits for energy should be counted even if there is no geographic connection to Missouri because it meets the goal of promoting renewable energy. But Renew Missouri, which supported the 2008 ballot measure, asserts that there must be some link to Missouri because one goal of the ballot measure was to create jobs by developing a renewable energy industry in the state.

"Requiring renewable energy delivery to Missouri will put more Missourians to work manufacturing, installing and maintaining wind farms, biomass plants and solar panels," said P.J. Wilson of Renew Missouri.

The resolution rejecting part of the renewable energy requirement rules now goes to the Missouri House, which also is considering its own version of a measure to block part of the Public Service Commission's rules.

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