JEFFERSON CITY — An environmental group has asked a Missouri judge to overturn the way state officials have implemented a 2008 ballot initiative meant to increase the use of renewable energy sources by power companies.
The voter-approved measure requires investor-owned utilities to tap renewable energy sources for at least 5 percent of their electricity by 2014, with that amount rising to 10 percent by 2018 and 15 percent by 2021, the Jefferson City News Tribune reported.
In 2011, the legislature blocked part of an administrative rule that would have required the electricity from renewable energy sources to be produced or sold in Missouri. The result is that utilities have been able to purchase credits for renewable energy produced by others. At the time, legislators said the proposed rule went beyond the requirements in the voter-approved law.
A lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment challenges the legal basis for the legislature's rejection of the administrative rule. Other plaintiffs include the Jefferson City-based company Missouri Solar Applications and Rolla resident Thomas Sager. The suit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
"It's a critical issue, because if utilities aren't required to deliver renewable energy to Missouri, the law is largely meaningless. Missouri isn't getting new jobs or the new renewable energy that should be built here," said Vaughn Prost of Missouri Solar Applications.
The lawsuit contends the secretary of state's office should have published the original rule submitted by the Missouri Public Service Commission, not the revised version lacking the portions that were rejected by the legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in 2010 and subsequently spiked by the full legislature in 2011.
The lawsuit contends it was "an infringement on the people's right to enact legislation by initiative" for the legislative committee to reject a portion of the renewable energy rule. In addition, the lawsuit says that a separate 2005 law giving the committee authority over PSC regulations was passed unconstitutionally.