Missouri voters get a chance to go green next week, but the top state utility regulator sees a glitch in an otherwise good proposal.
Proposition C , the so-called Green Initiative, would require Missouri’s investor-owned utilities, AmerenUE, Kansas City Power and Light, Aquila and Empire, to generate 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2021. The increase would come in steps. The utilities would have to get 2% of their electricity from solar, wind, biomass and hydropower by 2011. The percentage would increase by three percent by 2014, increase to 10% by 2018 and finally reach that 15% level by 2021.
Erin Noble with Missourians for Cleaner, Cheaper Energy says the proposal would lessen the state’s dependence on foreign fuels and would improve the quality of the environment.
There is a provision, though, that has caused alarm. Proposition C prohibits the utilities from increasing rates by more than 1% to pay for it. Noble denies backers fear utilities would abuse the proposal and hike rates without that restriction. She says that provision was added simply to protect consumers.
It’s that provision, though, that causes Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis to oppose the measure. Davis says the 1% restriction is unrealistic and, perhaps, illegal. Davis estimates it would cost a utility between $7 and 8 billion just to buy the equipment for wind generation which he says doesn’t even include the cost of leasing the land necessary to operate wind turbines.
Davis agrees Missouri needs to move toward more renewable energy. He says the step increase goals in the provision are realistic. Davis questions whether it is legal, though, to compel a utility to reach renewable energy goals, but restrict its ability to recoup the costs. He predicts the issue will be settled in the courts if approved by voters.