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Our Opinion: Split decision on bill signings

July 9, 2021 at 4:05 a.m. | Updated July 9, 2021 at 11:47 a.m.

We support new legislation signed into law earlier this week by Gov. Mike Parson to let Missouri utilities avoid a financial hit if they close coal plants.

But we're not as receptive to a measure the governor signed that would limit local control.

As we reported in a Missouri Independent story, Parson signed into law policy known as "securitization," which allows utility companies to refinance debt they issued to build coal plants and close the facilities early without taking a financial hit. With the savings, they can invest in more renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms.

It doesn't mandate the utilities close coal plants, but it helps them financially if they decide to do so.

"It's just another tool in the toolbox that utilities can use to refinance their burdensome coal debt and use the savings to invest in clean energy and create jobs right here in Missouri," said Andy Knott, deputy regional director for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

Securitization appears to be a win-win.

Supporters said it will lead to lower utility bills for Missourians.

Environmentalists support it because it helps utilities transition away from coal, which releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

Ameren UE and other electric companies support securitization, saying it could be a useful tool in the future. Ameren said it plans to invest $8 billion in renewable energy between now and 2040 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

However, Parson also signed legislation that would prohibit local governments from banning natural gas hookups on new buildings.

Environmentalists favor electricity to limit greenhouse gas emissions from burning natural gas.

We don't favor banning natural gas as an option. But we believe it's worse for the state to ban the banning of natural gas - essentially tying the hands of local governments.

If local/county governments look to ban natural gas in new buildings, opponents can take up the issue with their city/county officials. We don't see a compelling interest in the state getting involved.

News Tribune

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