In 2008, the voters of Missouri, through an initiative petition and a decisive vote, made a clear statement when they passed Proposition C by a 66 percent majority.
They wanted the state to support renewable energy sources by requiring electric companies to use such sources as wind, solar, water and other clean power sources — generating or using 2 percent renewable sources by 2011 and 15 percent by 2021.
The law provided for a way that those companies could comply with the standard if they did not actually produce the renewable energy. They could purchase renewable energy credits — RECs. The RECs, according to the law passed by voters, must represent energy generated in Missouri.
Plenty has changed since then.
In 2011, Missouri lawmakers rolled back that key provision about RECs, removing the requirement that utilities get renewable energy from in-state projects. That allowed electric companies to get RECs from as far away as California, South Dakota and even Canada, something Ameren and Kansas City Power & Light have taken advantage of.
That essentially undermines the renewable energy industry in Missouri where it could provide important economic investment in the state and thousands of new jobs.
In August, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment sued the state for that action, claiming that the secretary of state and the legislative committee did not have the right to make such a sweeping change to a law passed by the people. The lawsuit points out that by getting out-of-state RECs, Missouri customers never get that energy.
The state has since filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the environmental coalition waited too long to file it and should have first tried to get the change through the Public Service Commission before taking it to court.
Legal wrangling is expensive, time consuming and just plain ugly.
But the coalition’s point is important. The state should abide by the wishes of the people.
With a legislature unwilling to take on this issue, the people of Missouri took it into their hands. Petitions were signed, an election was held, and the voters spoke out loudly and clearly. They want renewable energy in Missouri.
City Utilities has shown that following the rules can work. Its recent announcement that the utility company will build the largest solar farm in the state by working with a Missouri company and a North Carolina firm prove it.
It’s time for the state to get on board and follow the will of Missouri voters regarding renewable energy.
Copyright, Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.