Dear IndianaDG Readers:
I don't often report on renewable energy activities in the State of Missouri but I thought this story was worthwhile PLUS it features the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. Let me explain. Before the Missouri Coalition for the Environment became a statewide organization, the Coalition began its work in 1969 in St. Louis as the region’s first independent citizens’ group created to address a broad range of environmental policy issues. In 1970 as a part of the first national Earth Day activities, I helped to organize a group at my St. Louis based high school called the Environmental Problems Club (EPC). EPC then became a member of the Coalition for the Environment.
Later I returned to my hometown of St. Louis to serve as the Executive Director of the Coalition for the Environment in 1977-78. So as you can see I have a soft spot for this group. Thanks for indulging my stroll down Memory Lane.
Laura Ann Arnold
Written by Jonathan Shorman
Months after an environmental group sued state officials alleging Missouri is not fully implementing a renewable energy law passed by voters, the state is trying to get the lawsuit thrown out.
In August, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment filed suit against Gov. Jay Nixon, Secretary of State Jason Kander, the Missouri Public Service Commission and the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
In 2008, Missouri voters passed Proposition C, the Renewable Energy Standard. The standard requires electric companies to sell an increasing amount of electricity from renewable energy sources. Between 2011-2013, 2 percent of sales must come from renewable sources. Beginning in 2014, the percentage jumps to 5 percent. Eventually, in 2021, companies will be required to make 15 percent of their sales from renewable sources.
Renewable energy is measured using renewable energy credits. According to the lawsuit, in 2011, Ameren and Kansas City Power & Light both purchased solar credits from third-party brokers.
And for the Missouri Coalition on the Environment, that is the problem.
“The (energy credits) summarized above are ‘unbundled,’ meaning they were purchased separately from the energy with which they are associated, which energy was never delivered to Missouri or to any Missouri customers,” the lawsuit says.
The group contends that part of a proposed rule that would have required the energy to actually be generated in Missouri or sold to customers in the state was squashed by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in 2010.
Sen. Bob Dixon and Rep. Eric Burlison, both of Springfield, sit on the committee, though neither was a committee member in 2010.
The Public Service Commission, which developed the proposed rule, filed the rule with the Secretary of State and the Joint Committee, which is tasked with providing legislative oversight of the rule-making process.
The committee voted not to approve the portion of the rule requiring the energy to be sourced in Missouri. The lawsuit says the committee only has the authority to review rules developed in response to laws passed by General Assembly, not laws passed by the people.
The coalition is suing to have the disapproved portion of the rule reinstated.
“It’s a critical issue because if utilities aren’t required to deliver renewable energy to Missouri, the law is largely meaningless. Missouri isn’t getting new jobs or the new renewable energy that should be built here,” Vaughn Prost, CEO of Missouri Solar Applications, said in a statement. The company is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Earlier in November, the state filed a motion asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed. According to the state, the environmental coalition wants the court to change the rule years after it was issued.
“Almost three years after the required time and outside of the required process for challenging the orders and decisions of the (Public Service Commission), the Plaintiffs ask this court to find that a decision of the Commission is of no legal effect,” the motion reads.
Eric Slusher, spokesman for Attorney General Chris Koster, said the office declined to comment because of pending litigation.
The motion also argues the court should not take up the suit because the environmental group has not exhausted its “administrative remedies,” meaning it has not tried to change the rule through the Public Service Commission before coming to the court.
The motion was filed jointly by the attorney for the Public Service Commission and the attorney general’s office. Kander, in a separate filing through an attorney, also says the lawsuit should be dismissed.