JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) The Missouri Senate approved a measure yesterday that will reform the state’s century-old regulatory environment by capping rates and allowing for grid modernization. Senate Bill 564 will not only help make significant improvement to Missouri’s regulatory environment, it will also enable our infrastructure to be modernized under the current Public Service Commission (PSC) framework.
Senate Leader, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said updating the grid will promote job creation and economic growth, and it will help keep and attract new businesses.
“Low electricity prices means Missouri businesses, including manufactures, can operate at a lower cost,” said Richard. “Future jobs depend on low energy costs. This bill has the potential to create up to 3,000 jobs across the state, generate $65 million in tax revenue and enable an investment of more than $1 billion in grid modernization.”
Missouri’s energy policy currently runs under a 100 year old regulatory framework. Technology has changed a lot over the last century. The way energy is delivered has changed. Missouri’s energy costs have risen 46.7 percent since 2007. The national average is 11.2 percent over that same time period. Forty-six other states have reformed their energy regulations.
Bill sponsor, Senator Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said Missouri is constantly playing catch up with its neighboring states and falling way behind.
“Missouri’s energy policy is old, outdated and simply broken,” said Emery. “Our rates have gone up four times faster than the national average in the past decade. Missourians need energy that is smart, secure and stable. This measure will bring predictability and security to our energy grid without taking any authority away from the Public Service Commission.”
The measure would cap rates for five years for utility companies that file a capital investment plan with the PSC. This will allow the utility company to replace, modernize and secure its infrastructure while the PSC still has authority and oversight over the projects. Also, provisions of this legislation will allow rates to be cut more than $100 million per year through an accelerated process within the Public Service Commission due to the tax relief provided under the recent reduction of federal corporate tax rates. This provision will provide rate relief to Ameren Missouri customers within 90 days of the effective date of this legislation where rate reduction using the current process could have taken years.
Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said with improvements to the grid, Missouri consumers could save millions, and it would again make the Show-Me State a low-energy cost state.
“Current rate increases, sometimes at 5 or 6 percent, are hurting businesses and Missouri families who foot the bill,” said Kehoe. “Reforming our energy regulatory environment means families get to keep more of their paycheck. It is a good investment for businesses, consumers, and utilities.”
The measure now heads to the House for consideration. For more on this bill and others, visit www.senate.mo.gov.