The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 24, 2013

Multiple energy bills being considered by Missouri General Assembly

JOPLIN, Mo. — Multiple pieces of legislation related to energy are advancing in the current session of the Missouri General Assembly.

The lawmakers are considering bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 207 and House Bill 398, that would enable more timely upgrades of energy infrastructure, boosting the reliability of the grid and updating Missouri’s century-old utility laws.

The Missouri Public Service Commission voted 4-0 last week to open a hearing docket to receive written comments on the effect of pending legislative proposals to change the way investor-owned electric utilities can recover infrastructure costs. The commission’s action complies with a legislative request to hold the hearings, allow testimony and advise lawmakers on possible effects of the bills.         

The legislative request specifically asks the PSC to review the safety, adequacy and reliability of Missouri’s existing electric infrastructure and to identify problems, needs and costs associated with electric infrastructure. It also asks for analysis of rate impacts that could result if the bills were implemented, and for a review of due process procedures related to implementing the changes contained in the measures.

The commission has asked all intended stakeholders to provide written information and testimony by April 1 because of time constraints. A comment hearing will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 8, in Room 305 of the Governor Office Building. The PSC is expected to issue a report of its findings to the Legislature by April 17.

Also before the Legislature are House Bill 119 and Senate Bill 396, which have been proposed by investor-owned utilities and the solar industry.

The bills could improve net metering in Missouri for a majority of utility customers.

They include an increase in the size of net metered systems to 200 kilowatts from the current limit of 100 kilowatts, a reduced application approval time, annual true-up for net metering versus current monthly true-up, and reduced meter fees for small systems.

The legislation also would allow utilities to recover lost revenues associated with net metered systems and phase out the $2 per watt rebate that applies to most investor-owned utilities in Missouri. The rebate would phase out in increments of 50 cents per year until 2018 when there would be no rebate.

The legislation also holds protections for the solar industry from sudden discontinuation of the rebate, including due process, if the 1 percent cap is reached in any calendar year, and protections for ratepayers with the continuation of the 1 percent cost cap.

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