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Rules invite repeal

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has little choice but to side with GOP lawmakers in one of the biggest fights in Jefferson City this year: rule-making for the 2008 renewable energy standard.

The standard approved by voters requires utilities to generate at least 2 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by this year, and at least 15 percent by 2021. That sounds simple enough and is not in dispute.

But a deeply divided Public Service Commission enacted rules related to the standard last year, and in those rules it required the renewable energy be either “located in Missouri” or “sold to Missouri electric energy retail customers.” Several lawmakers and utilities rightly cried foul, and majorities of both houses have voted to throw out those provisions.

“You may have to go back to that day when the James gang held up their first train on Gad’s Hill to witness such a shameless attempt at plundering the innocent,” says Jeff Davis, one of two PSC members to vote against the new rules.

Davis contends the restrictive rules were pushed by a small group of renewable energy investors banking on a return for their projects in the state. He says the rules would deny utilities the ability to meet their renewable energy requirements from cheaper non-Missouri sources, which could include the purchase of “credits” for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

One critical passage in the law approved by voters says the energy “can be self-generated or purchased from another source in or outside of this state. A utility may comply in whole or in part by purchasing RECs (renewable energy credits).”

State Sen. Luann Ridgeway of Smithville puts it well: “The bottom line of it was, I think, that some people were trying to get by regulation what they failed to get through legislation.” And offers Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph: “According to statute, departments can’t promulgate rules that are more restrictive than what the statute that is passed by the people says.”

Gov. Nixon needs to sign off on the lawmakers’ repeal of these rules that would attempt to place more requirements on utilities than what voters approved.