New Missouri renewable energy proposal submitted

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A supporter of a voter-approved law that demands Missouri utilities use more renewable energy filed a proposal Friday for a new requirement after the original has faced years of stumbling blocks.

PJ Wilson, the director of Renew Missouri, said the new renewable energy requirement would be clearer and stronger. He said the difficulties the current law has faced means electric rates could go up without the amount of renewable energy sources that are used for electricity in Missouri also increasing.

"We need to go back to the ballot because the current situation with the law is possibly worse than nothing at all," Wilson said.

Missouri voters in 2008 approved a ballot measure that requires investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy sources for at least 2 percent of their electricity this year, 5 percent by 2014, 10 percent by 2018 and 15 percent by 2021. Power companies also are barred from raising electric rates by more than 1 percent to comply with the requirement.

The measure was approved by 66 percent of voters and passed in every county except for Osage County east of Jefferson City. But there have been challenges in implementing that law. Among the issues have been whether electricity from the renewable energy sources must be produced or sold in Missouri and the specifics of how to apply the 1 percent cap in electric rates.

Under the new ballot measure submitted Friday, investor-owned utilities would need to use renewable energy sources for at least 5 percent of the electricity they produce by 2014, 10 percent by 2017, 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2023 and 25 percent by 2026. Wilson said the measure also is intended to clarify that the energy must be tied to Missouri customers or facilities and address how the cost restrictions will work.

Renew Missouri said it plans to seek hundreds of volunteers to help support the ballot measure.

The proposed ballot measure still faces several hurdles before it could appear before voters in 2012. State officials must complete a summary and a financial cost estimate that would appear on the initiative petition pages and on the ballot. Many initiative petitions face legal challenges at that stage. Supporters then must gather signatures from registered voters equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of Missouri's nine congressional districts. That amounts to 91,818 to 99,600 signatures, depending on which congressional districts are selected.

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