Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gov. Opie's Task Force Recommends Voluntary Renewable Energy Standard

Two weeks ago, I took note of a bill in the Missouri Legislature proposing a renewable energy standard for the state. This week, a task force appointed by Baby Blunt agreed -- provided, of course, that the utility companies didn't actually have to, you know, meet the standard. From the Kansas City Star:
A government task force on Monday recommended the state set a goal for utility corporations to produce 10 percent of their electricity by 2020 through renewable energy sources, such as wind.

But members of Gov. Matt Blunt's Missouri Energy Task Force shied away from suggesting the target become a requirement - a move favored by some environmentalists.

Task force chairman Jeff Davis, who also is chairman of the utility-regulating Missouri Public Service Commission, said requiring a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable sources likely would lead utilities to seek rate increases from consumers to cover the new costs.

Instead, the panel's recommendation calls for utilities to "make a good faith effort" to reach the 10 percent target while still providing "reliable, low-cost" electricity. The target would apply only to the state's four investor-owned electric utilities, not those run by municipalities or cooperatives.

Those investor-owned utilities - AmerenUE, Kansas City Power & Light Co., Aquila Inc. and The Empire District Electric Co. - serve more than 1.8 million customers, about 63 percent of all electricity customers statewide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The task force's recommendation embraces the concepts in legislation by Sen. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, who said even a baby step toward encouraging more environmentally friendly energy production should be considered a success.

His bill would leave it to the PSC to decide whether corporate utilities are making "a good-faith effort" toward the goal of producing 7 percent of their electricity through renewable sources by 2015 and 10 percent by 2020.

We discussed the problem with rate hikes, particularly for the poor, last time, but I'm guessing no one thinks that a renewable standard that's not really a renewable standard is much help to anyone -- except these geniuses in Jefferson City. I'm guessing a majority of the Legislature will think this is a marvelous idea...

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