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MO Solar Industry Shines but Future Progress is Cloudy

PHOTO: More Missouri homes and businesses are turning to solar energy, according to a new report, but there is no clear consensus on how to keep that growth going. Photo credit: pedrojperez/morguefile.com
PHOTO: More Missouri homes and businesses are turning to solar energy, according to a new report, but there is no clear consensus on how to keep that growth going. Photo credit: pedrojperez/morguefile.com
August 7, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It's been a bright few years for solar energy in Missouri, with a new report detailing the state's triple-digit growth in solar capacity several years in a row.

But experts caution the outlook won't be so sunny if the state doesn't support the policies in place.

P.J. Wilson, executive director of the advocacy group Renew Missouri, says the state's net metering policy and voter-mandated solar rebates have led the way for that growth.

But, he says the utilities have simply stopped paying those rebates, despite an agreement passed last year to wind them down.

"It's clear that the state is not poised for that solar growth to continue unless there is a way to figure out how to honor the law that the legislators passed last year, which requires utilities to continue offering rebates," he says.

Wilson points out several legal challenges ordering the utilities to keep paying those rebates have been filed, but so far there has been no action taken toward the utilities.

The full report, Lighting the Way, is available on Environment Missouri's website.

Wilson says he remains hopeful the industry will find a way to survive what he calls senseless partisanship, but he says it might take a new generation of Missouri legislators to offer the renewable energy industry the kind of support it needs to thrive.

"There's a lot of talk about economic growth and development in Missouri, and while that talk is happening, there is actual economic growth and development that has happened in the solar sector," he says.

Wilson adds that if the rebates were to continue according to schedule, the solar industry would be poised to help Missouri achieve the carbon reduction goals outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan ahead of schedule.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO