MBEF 2021 Legislative Update: The future looks bright for Missouri energy policy!
Greetings MBEF Members,
The Missouri General Assembly finished its legislative session last week and it was quietly very productive for clean energy policy. Kudos to all the advocates, Senators and Representatives who engaged in negotiations and put forward important compromises that now await the Governor’s signature.
Securitization: Legislation that will allow utility companies to retire aging coal plants before the end of their expected life span without taking on more financial burden, successfully passed this session. The bill provides flexibility enabling utility companies to refinance debt on their coal plants, sell bonds to cover their remaining value, and invest more in clean, renewable forms of energy generation.
The policy is a great tool for utilities to use to responsibly pay down the costs of aging infrastructure, at the same time invest in diverse forms of energy, while keeping consumer rates low.
Consumer advocates, environmental organizations, regulators, and utility companies all applauded its passage as a great step forward for Missouri’s energy future.
The bill is HB734
Electric Vehicles: In other infrastructure news, legislators passed a significant transportation proposal to increase the motor-fuel tax to fund road and bridge repairs. The first such increase since 1992 will raise the gas tax 12.5 cents/gallon over the next five years.
The agreement took hours of debate spread out over many days to reach a compromise that the Governor has indicated he will sign into law.
Part of the package includes a slight fee increase for new electric vehicle purchases, but most importantly, it creates an Electric Vehicle Task Force that will bring stakeholders together to figure out the proper path forward as more EVs come to market and use Missouri roadways.
Find charging stations in a community near you using this MAP.
The bill is SB262
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy): A program championed by clean energy advocates that came under criticism for its potential to become a predatory lending scheme impacting low-income residents, was the onus for reform that passed both chambers this session.
Under the PACE program, commercial entities and local residents can obtain low-interest loans to pay for energy improvements, such as solar panels, or energy efficient HVAC systems. The cost is attached to their annual property tax bill and assessed over a period of years. In some cases, individuals in desperate need of repairs found themselves in situations where they were unable to afford these upgrades and now face higher tax bills as well.
The legislation provides needed reforms to the PACE program, which include more oversight of the clean energy development boards, tighter contract language, and limits on the amount of financing proposed on residential property.
The bill is HB697
More positive news is expected this summer as the federal government plans to roll out a number of initiatives involving clean energy, including incentives for purchasing and manufacturing electric vehicles, renewable energy infrastructure, and beyond.
Also, look for new utility-scale solar and wind projects to pop up across our state. Smart-meters and storm-resistant infrastructure projects are also on the horizon. These efforts continue to diversify Missouri’s energy portfolio, strengthen our grid, and provide us, the customer, with privacy, security, and confidence, knowing that when we need power, it will continue to be available, reliable and affordable.