Will Missouri Be Left Behind in Race for Clean Energy?
PHOTO: Proposition C was passed by voters to supply 15 percent of Missouri's energy needs with renewables by 2021. Courtesy of Renew Missouri.
February 6, 2013
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Four years ago, 66 percent of voters in Missouri said yes to Proposition C, the Renewable Energy Standard. It requires utility companies to use new renewable energy sources for 15 percent of their power by 2021. Now, environmentalists are accusing some state lawmakers of trying to thwart the will of the people.
At issue is a bill that would allow existing hydropower to be included in the calculation.
When the Renewable Energy Standard was passed, said John Hickey, director of the Sierra Club's Missouri chapter, they asked for new clean-energy projects - with an emphasis on "new."
"Voters voted to say we wanted an additional 15 percent in clean energy," he said, "and that's what we want - the additional 15 percent in clean energy - and changing the definition is moving the goalpost."
The problem is not with hydropower itself, Hickey said, but that the state needs to expand its clean-energy resources to sun and wind energy.
"We're not asking the hydro to be dismantled," he said. "We're just saying that's not part of the 15 percent - and if you include it, then you're lowering the bar and overturning the vote of Missourians."
Hickey said Missouri stands to benefit from more than $2 billion in economic development and thousands of new "green-collar" jobs if new wind and solar resources are built in the next few years under the Renewable Energy Standard.
If lawmakers change the formula to include existing hydropower plants, he said, an equivalent of three new large wind farms would not be built.
A group called Renew Missouri already filed a complaint with state regulators accusing Ameren of trying to circumvent the standards - a charge that Ameren denies.
More information is online at renewmo.org.