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Missouri Environmental Groups Sue Utilities For Disobeying Renewable Energy Compliance Laws

Missouri environmental watchdogs are taking Missouri utilities companies to task over failure to increase power coming from renewables, as was approved by voters on a 2008 ballot initiative. Renew Missouri and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center (on behalf of seven other groups) are suing Ameren Missouri and Empire District Electric Company for about $100 million in noncompliance fines.

Welcome to Missouri sign via Shutterstock

Renew Missouri and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center (GRELC) are calling for the enforcement of Missouri’s renewable energy standard, which requires investor-owned utilities to have 15% of they power coming from renewable by 2021, meeting annual minimum benchmarks along the way.

Renew Missouri says the $100 million fines would not affect ratepayers.

What are the benchmarks?

According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), the benchmarks are based on annual electricity sales and must meet the following minimums:

  • 2% from 2011 to 2013 (0.04% solar)
  • 5% from 2014 to 2017 (0.1% solar)
  • 10% from 2018 to 2020 (0.2% solar)
  • 15% for 2021 and thereafter (0.3% solar)
Renew Missouri and GRELC filed legal complaints that Ameren and Empire are, in fact, not looking to new renewables, but rather relying on old and ineligible resources.

What resources are eligible? Which are not?

And herein lies the problem. Ameren and Empire contend that existing hydropower should count as meeting renewable expectations. No way, say Renew Missouri and GRELC. They argue that 100-year old hydroelectric dams do not satisfy legal requirements.

“Eligible renewables are now defined as electricty produced using solar photovoltaics; solar thermal; wind; small hydropower; biogas from agricultural operations, landsfills and wastewater treatment plants; pyrolis and thermal depolymerization of waste materials; various forms of biomass; fuel cells using hydrogen from renewable resources; and other resources approved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR).”

To clarify what exactly counts as “small” hydropower, DSIRE states: “Eligible hydropower facilities must have a generator nameplate of 10 megawatts or less and not require new water diversions or impoundments.”

Ameren asserts that out-of-state renewable projects should count towards the assessment done by the Missouri Public Service Commission.

What’s the prognosis for Midwestern renewables?

It’s good. After this summer’s drought, Midwestern farmers looked to take advantage of installing clean energy opportunities on their lands. And Atchison County, Missouri, has already seen and felt the benefits of Farmers City Wind Power Project, a massive renewable energy project.

Source: Renew Missouri

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Written By

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.


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