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Missouri lawmakers to consider renewable energy mandate

Missouri lawmakers to consider renewable energy mandate

March 27th, 2011 by CHRIS BLANK, Associated Press in News

Missouri lawmakers this week are preparing to take another crack at dealing with a requirement that utilities use more renewable energy sources to produce electricity.

A House committee was expected to reconsider legislation dealing with the renewable energy mandate that was approved more than two years ago by voters and requires utilities to use steadily increasing amounts of renewable energy to generate electricity. Since the law was approved during the 2008 election, there have been difficulties with developing the requirements needed to implement the measure.

Rep. Jason Holsman, who is the chairman of a special House committee tasked with handling the renewable energy legislation, said a new measure could be considered Tuesday. Holsman said he met last week with utilities, industrial energy users, the renewable energy industry and others affected by the mandate to discuss the problems that have hindered its implementation and to focus on what it was designed to accomplish.

"Our goal is to create as much renewable energy as we can while protecting the ratepayers," said Holsman, D-Kansas City.

Holsman, who is one of the few Democrats that lead a panel in the Republican-controlled House, said his committee was likely to consider a new version for a measure that it approved this month before lawmakers recessed for their annual weeklong spring break. He said lawmakers need to take some action with the renewable energy mandate or electric customers could ultimately face significant rate increases.

The renewable energy mandate was approved by roughly 66 percent of voters in 2008 and passed in every county but Osage County - a rural county east of Jefferson City.

The voter-approved law established the outline and tasked state utility regulators to develop administrative rules to lay out the specifics.

A divided Missouri Public Service Commission approved renewable energy rules last year, but the Legislature rejected them earlier this year. At particular issue was a provision in the rules that would have required electricity from renewable energy sources to be produced or sold in Missouri. Critics argued that the requirement went too far and that the law approved by voters did not require the Missouri connection. Supporters of requiring a link to Missouri contend that it is necessary for the renewable energy mandate to provide an economic development boost.

There also has been disagreement about the specifics with the 1 percent cap in rate under the voter-approved law.