Missouri lawmakers outsource renewable energy, jobs to other regions of the country
February 23rd, 2011
Contact: PJ Wilson, co-director of Renew Missouri
Jefferson City (February, 23rd 2011) – Missouri lawmakers have rolled back key provisions of the voter-approved Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), effectively driving jobs and economic development out of the state. SCR1, which went into effect today, removes the requirement that utilities generate renewable electricity, like wind, solar, and biomass, from in-state projects or from projects from surrounding states that deliver power into Missouri. Utilities will now comply with the RES by paying to outsource development of renewable energy projects to places like California, South Dakota, and Canada.
“We should be focused on development in Missouri,” said PJ Wilson, co-director of Renew Missouri. “Developing projects across the state in places like Neosho or Nodaway County could result in more than $4 billion in economic investment for our state and thousands of new jobs.”
Legislators need look no further than Columbia for the benefits of requiring renewable energy standards to come from locally sourced projects. Last week, MFA Oil of Columbia announced its plans to create jobs in Missouri by investing in a large biomass project. The biomass project is expected to directly create more than 900 jobs and more than $150 million in annual economic development. The company states within its press release the investments are being made to help the City of Columbia meet its own municipal renewable electricity standard.
A University of Missouri – St. Louis study from 2008 calculated Missouri’s RES would create 9,591 jobs and generate $2.86 billion in economic activity in Missouri over the next 20 years. The study assumed power was being generated in state or delivered into Missouri from surrounding states.
“This is just a matter of common sense. When spending ratepayer dollars on new projects, why outsource the projects and not build them here locally?” questioned PJ Wilson.
Missouri’s RES, seen on the ballot as Prop C, which was passed into law in November 2008 with the support of 66% of voters statewide, requires that investor-owned utilities produce or buy no less than 15% of their electricity from renewable resources like wind, biomass, and solar by 2021. The Missouri RES includes strong consumer protections limiting any increase in costs to just 1% as a result of the state’s RES.
Leaders on both side of the aisle have voiced strong support for a legislative solution to Missouri’s RES and in response House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) created a special Renewable Energy Committee to focus on the issue. “At the end of the day, investment in Missouri is what we want. It’s what the intention of Prop. C was,” said Rep Jason Holsman (D-45th) the Chairman of the newly created Special Committee on Renewable Energy. “Prop C needed to be drafted a little tighter and better to make sure that was the end outcome, and now we’re going to seek a legislative solution to get the outcome that we were looking for which is more renewable energy for our state.”
In response to SCR1, Gov. Nixon sent a letter last week to the entire General Assembly in which he says, “Now is not the time to abandon this critical opportunity to accelerate the development of renewable energy in Missouri. Renewable energy must be a cornerstone of our economic future.”
Renew Missouri is a project of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a 501c(3) non-profit organization.