Missouri Clean Energy, Proposition C (2008)

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Missouri Proposition C, also known as the Clean Energy Initiative, was an initiated state statute that appeared on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Missouri, where it was approved.

The proposition created a renewable electricity standard in the state. The standard requires utility companies to gradually increase their usage of renewable energy annually until 15 percent of the energy used in the state is renewable. The initiative also requires that energy rates not increase by more than one percent annually.

Aftermath

Exemptions

Before voters approved the 2008 measure, state lawmakers passed an exemption to the initiative. A March 2010 lawsuit asked for a Missouri judge to declare the exemption invalid in an effort to make the Empire District Electric Co. abide by the voter-approved law. The electric company, however, argued that they legally qualify for the exemption. According to the filed lawsuit, lawmakers did not have the authority to approve the exemption because it was approved after initiative supporters submitted their petition signatures. The argument was not based on state law but on legal theory from the 1920s. Initiative supporters argued that even if lawmakers had the authority, the exemption conflicted with the initiative and should be repealed.[1]

Implementation difficulties

In 2010 the Missouri Public Service Commission submitted to the secretary of state's office a rule for the voter-approved mandate. According to the rule, the mandate takes effect September 30, 2010. According to reports, portions of the rule have already been rejected and a lawsuit is likely. The actual bill approved by voters was reported to be about 1,000 words long, however the rule passed by Missouri officials to implement the mandate is about 10,000 words long. Challenges include a cap on electric rate increases and allowing utilities to count electricity that comes from wind farms and solar cells in other states.[2]

Proposed rule changes

On January 24, 2011 the Missouri State Senate voted 29-2 to reject part of the rules developed by state regulators. Specifically, the contested rule requires that electricity from renewable sources be produced or sold in the state of Missouri. The proposed changes remained pending in the House.[3]

In February 2011 Rep. Jason Holsman introduced HB 613. The proposed legislation would repeal and replace Proposition C. In comparison to the voter-approved Proposition C, HB 613 has been described as "less ambitious." Specifically, the bill would cut the mandate for renewable energy in half. Utilities would derive 7% instead of 15% of their electricity from green fuels by 2020. Additionally, it removes the provision that allowed utilities to receive credit for subsidizing out-of-state renewable projects.[4]

The bill can be read in full here.

Renew Missouri, supporters of the 2008 measure, co-director P.J. Wilson said, "We have a ton of reservations about it as it is, but we think it could be a foothold to get the renewable energy movement going in Missouri."[4]

As of May 15, 2011 HB 613 failed to pass during the 2011 legislative session.[5] Sen. Mike Kehoe, who sponsored legislation to allow power companies to raise rates to pay at least part of the required permit fee, asked the governor to call a special session. However, no such session was called. According to reports, Kehoe's legislation was reviewed by the Senate on the last day of the legislative session, but was tabled.[6]

2012 ballot measures

In late July 2011 PJ Wilson, the director of Renew Missouri, announced that supporters of the renewable energy law were completing a feasibility study for a possible 2012 statewide ballot measure. According to news reports in late July 2011 the proposed measure would establish qualifications for renewable energy and use targets for future years. However, it is possible that the proposed measure may completely eliminate 2008's voter-approved Proposition C.[7]

Election results

Missouri Proposition C (Clean Energy)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,777,500 66.0%
No914,33234.0%

Official results via: Missouri Secretary of State - Elections Division

Fiscal Impact

The estimated direct cost to state governmental entities is $395,183. It is estimated there are no direct costs or savings to local governmental entities. However, indirect costs may be incurred by state and local governmental entities if the proposal results in increased electricity retail rates.[8]

Supporters

Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy (MCCE) was the campaign committee supporting the initiative. It included the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Votes Conservation, Renew Missouri and Sierra Club.

Renew Missouri is a nonprofit corporation which formed in September of 2007 to form an Energy Group for the nonprofit Missouri Votes Conservation. Beyond creating the Renewable Electricity Standard the group is working to create a interconnection policy that will allow solar panels and wind turbines to connect to the utility grid.

The group believes that consumers will support this message, quoting studies that said they would accept a moderate increase in exchange for cleaner energy.[9] The group also believes that the initiative will move the state towards energy independence, diversification ans stave off climate change.

MCCE has also enlisted the help of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment to help gather signatures.[10] Noble, a group member, said that 25 other states have passed renewable energy mandates, including Colorado and Washington through the initiative process.

The group also has the endorsement of Kansas City Power & Light, the primary utility provider for the greater Kansas City area, which is located within close proximity to abundant wind energy producing properties, and is one of only three Missouri investor-owned utilities that the measure would affect. The other two investor-owned utilities in the state, Ameren UE, near St. Louis, and Empire District Electric, near Joplin, are both officially neutral on the matter.

“Our endorsement of the renewable energy initiative proposal underscores our continuing commitment to achieving regional sustainability by supporting investments in clean energy sources,” said Michael Chesser, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Energy. Sierra Club is also backing the initiative.[11]

Kristina Wilfore of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a national organization that advocates for liberal ballot measures, has written that "progressives should feel good" about the initiative.[12]

The League of Women Voters of Missouri supports the initiative.[13]

Donors

Donors to the committee sponsoring the initiative included:

  • American Wind Energy Association, $50,000.[14]
  • Renew Missouri, $48,000.
  • Missouri Votes Conservation, $40,000.
  • Sierra Club of Washington, DC, $40,000.
  • Sierra Club State Action Fund of Seattle, Washington. $30,000.
  • General Electric, $25,000.
  • Ballot Initiative Group of Missouri, $20,000.
  • League of Conservation Voters (Washington, D.C.) $15,000.[15]
  • AFSCME, $15,000.
  • Oak Foundation (Maine), $15,000.

Campaign consultants

Campaign consultants hired by Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy include:

Opposition

Tim Fox, a spokesman for AmerenUE has said that the company cannot endorse the mandates. He said in order for the energy to be effective the company would need a lot of land, plenty of wind and a way to connect them to a power transmission system. AmerenUE said it would prefer a market demand rather than a government mandate for cleaner energy.[16]

A change of heart?

On September 15, KWMU Public Broadcasting reported that AmerenUE spokesman Tim Fox says the St. Louis-based utility is not taking a position.

"We're neutral on this particular ballot proposal, but our concern is that renewable energy mandates could lead to significantly higher costs for our customers in the future," Fox said.[17]

Legislation

Two similar measures have already failed in the state House. However a third measure, SB 1262, has been presented in the Senate by Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis.[18]

Path to the ballot

Supporters filed petition signatures on May 4, 2008, the final deadline for submittal.[19]

On reviewing the signatures, the Missouri Secretary of State determined that it had fallen 526 signatures short of the 14,860 needed in the Third Congressional District, which covers Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve counties, plus parts of St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis. This determination led to a declaration of insufficiency, which meant that the measure would not appear on the November ballot.[20]

Lawsuit filed; proponents win

In mid-August, Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy filed a signature recovery lawsuit, arguing that some of the signatures they had submitted were incorrectly invalidated and that if these signatures were counted, the initiative would be determined to have sufficient signatures for the ballot.[21]

The lawsuit was successful, with a Cole County judge ordering on September 8, 2008 that the measure should go on the ballot.[22]

In 2002 and 2006, initiative petition sponsors won similar lawsuits. In 2006, a Missouri judge ruled in the case of Committee for a Healthy Future v. Carnahan that 1,004 signatures for Amendment 3, a tobacco tax initiative, should have been counted and the measure was subsequently placed on the November ballot. In 2002, in the case of Citizens for a Healthy Missouri v. Blunt, a judge ruled that additional valid signatures should have been counted in the Tobacco Tax Proposition and ordered it onto the November 2002 ballot. Similarly, supporters of Amendment 2, a collective bargaining initiative, filed a successful signature recovery lawsuit.[23]

See also

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Articles

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. Associated Press,"Suit targets exemption to Mo. solar power rebate," March 16, 2010
  2. Associated Press,"Analysis: Implementing Mo. energy law proves tough," July 12, 2010
  3. Associated Press,"Mo. Senate votes to reject renewable energy rule," January 25, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 St. Louis Post-Dispatch,"Bill would overhaul Missouri's renewable energy law," April 17, 2011
  5. St. Louis Post-Dispatch,"What the Missouri Legislature passed," May 15, 2011
  6. Ozarks First,"Senator Seeks Special Session for Nuclear Issue," May 16, 2011
  7. Associated Press,"Mo. renewable energy backers mull ballot measure," July 29, 2011
  8. Newly Approved for 2008 Missouri Ballot: Petitions Pertaining to Renewable Energy Resources, FreShare, Feb. 2008
  9. Volunteers needed to circulate petition, Joplin Independent, Feb. 24, 2008
  10. West County Journal, Energy activists seek to put issue on ballot, April 8, 2008
  11. Business Wire, Kansas City Power & Light Announces Its Endorsement of Missouri Renewable Energy Ballot Initiative, April 23, 2008
  12. Huffington Post, Ballot Initiatives in 2008: Change Vs. More of the Same, June 12, 2008
  13. Memo to Local LWV Presidents, September 25, 2008
  14. FOR CLEANER CHEAPER ENERGY Contribution detail, May 19, 2008 report
  15. FOR CLEANER CHEAPER ENERGY Contribution detail, July 15, 2008 report
  16. West County Journal, Energy activists seek to put issue on ballot, April 8, 2008
  17. KWMU Public Broadcasting: "No opponents yet for Clean Energy Initiative", September 15, 2008
  18. SB 1262
  19. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Four groups make deadline to file initiative petitions," May 5, 2008
  20. STLToday.com: "Casino, health worker issues make Mo. ballot", August 6, 2008
  21. Ozarks First: Group Sues To Put Initiative On Ballot, August 18, 2008
  22. Missourian: "Renewable energy initiative will be on November ballot", September 8, 2008
  23. Lawsuit Filed to Place Clean Energy Initiative on November Ballot