The Missouri Supreme Court’s considering a case involving Renewable Energy Standards.
The Public Service Commission, known as the PSC, proposed a rule in 2010 which included “geographic sourcing” provisions. Those provisions forbid utilities from purchasing renewable energy credits for power produced or consumed outside Missouri.
A joint state legislative committee disapproved those provisions, and the PSC backed away from them in January 2011. Less than a week later, the legislature passed a concurrent resolution to permanently disapprove and suspend the proposed rule which had been placed in the code of state regulations by the secretary of state.
After the governor allowed the legislature’s resolution to become law, a solar company and a state taxpayer – collectively known as the Coalition for the Environment – sued, naming the joint legislative committee, the PSC, the secretary of state and the governor in its suit.
With the case pending, the PSC filed a revised renewable energy standards rule, effective in late 2015, and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. When the court granted the PSC’s request, the coalition appealed. It’s arguing, among other things, that the joint legislative committee had no authority to review and disapprove of any part of the Renewable Energy Standard, and that the PCS did not voluntarily withdraw the geographic sourcing provisions and was not free to change its final order of rulemaking.
Before the Supreme Court Wednesday, the coalition’s attorney, Henry Robertson, said the “geographic sourcing” provisions, which were part of the original PSC proposal that was published as a rule, must be preserved. “The statute still contains the geographic sourcing provisions that were interpreted in our favor by the PSC back in 2010 said Robertson. “The language in the statute is still there, therefore the rules to implement that language should be in the rule.”
The state’s backing the legislature’s rejection of the provisions, and the PSC’s decision to exclude them. Representing the PSC before the high court, Attorney Jennifer Leigh Heinz argued the agency no longer wants to include the provisions in in the rule. “They have not come back to wanting the content of the geographic sourcing rules placed in the rule’ said Leigh Heinz. They have not done that at all. All of their indications have been that they don’t intend to include geographic sourcing rules. And of course, it’s the commission (PSC) that must decide what the state’s Renewable Energy Standard rule will be.”
The issue’s roots date back to 2008 when voters passed a ballot measure on a Renewable Energy Standard which governs renewable energy credits that utilities can purchase.