The Missouri Senate is considering a bill led by Majority Floor Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, that would protect Missouri’s power grid. Under the bill, if a utility company closes a power plant, the company would be required to find another energy source for customers to use.

O’Laughlin is concerned about what electric generation looks like in the future.

“The rush to renewables and the immense amount of federal money that’s being poured into that, of course, incentivizes people to go that direction,” she said. “But, at the same time, we are closing down reliable generation, which then results in, when we have severe weather, results in rolling blackouts.”

The proposal would require a utility to make the replacing infrastructure fully operational by the time the power plant is shut down.

Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit, said he understands O’Laughlin’s concern with the impending closure of the Rush Island Energy Center in Jefferson County’s Festus.

“I’m not sure who is ultimately responsible to make sure that we have reliable generation,” Cierpiot said.

“I think the PSC (Missouri Public Service Commission),” responded O’Laughlin.

“I think so too, but I’m not sure it’s, I think rates and things are, I guess it’s something that we need to verify,” Cierpiot said. “I’ve been digging into it a little bit, but it’s something that…I’d like to do something about this before we have the house on fire.”

Henry Robertson with the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club opposes the bill, saying it would “strand Missouri in a world of vanishing centralized power plants.”

“This bill is designed for electrical grid in the past. It would result in replacing old, obsolete coal burning power plants with other coal or natural gas generated power or incredibly expensive nuclear power contrary to the direction and economics of electricity supply.”

Under O’Laughlin’s bill, a replacing power could be constructed outside of Missouri so long as it’s connected to a utility’s regional electric grid in Missouri.

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