Published on March 6th, 2013 |
by Zachary Shahan
Missouri Could Squash Economic Development From Renewable Energy In The State
Last week, the Missouri House passed a bill that, if it becomes a law, would greatly weaken a popular renewable energy law that was anticipated to create 22,000 jobs and associated economic development in the state. It’s the same sort of bill that was recently rejected by Kansas legislators. Here’s more from Renew Missouri:
In 2008, Missourians voted by a 2-to-1 margin via statewide ballot initiative to pass a Renewable Energy Standard (RES), requiring the state’s largest utilities to increase their use of renewable energy. This was the strongest support any statewide RES has received in the nation. The RES requires investor-owned utilities in Missouri to obtain an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources, with at least 15% of their power coming from renewables by 2021.
Bart Korman is the sponsor of House Bill 44 (HB44). The bill would allow Missouri utilities – including Ameren, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire Electric Company – to count ancient hydroelectric plants like the 83 year-old Bagnell Dam towards compliance with the RES. In addition, HB44 would allow these utilities to purchase “renewable energy credits” from hydropower from anywhere in the world, of any size. If HB44 goes into law, utilities will change nothing about where their power comes from, and instead Missouri ratepayers would literally be subsidizing large hydropower from faraway places like the Hoover Dam, without ever receiving any power from those dams.
Renew Missouri was the main driver behind the statewide ballot initiative in 2008, and has been advocating for the effective implementation of the RES for the last 5 years. “Missouri’s RES is consistent with 26 other states in putting specific limitations on what hydropower can count as renewable energy,” says Henry Robertson, an attorney with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center who drafted the original law. Since the purpose of the policy is to encourage clean tech economic development like solar and wind, nearly every state exempts large, already existing hydropower from counting toward their renewable energy laws.
Advocates supporting implementation of Missouri’s renewable energy law cite a study predicting the policy would create 22,000 jobs and over $1.3 billion in economic investment in Missouri. Very little of that development is happening today, they say, and if HB44 becomes law, there will be no new economic development at all. On the House floor today, opponents to HB44 discussed the 1,100 solar jobs in Missouri that would be threatened by this bill’s passage, in addition to the tens of thousands of future jobs the bill would prevent from being created.