Morning headlines- Thursday, July 5, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines- Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jul 5, 2012

Federal government will not fund reservoir repairs

The federal government has rejected a request from Ameren Missouri to receive stimulus funds for rebuilding the Taum Sauk reservoir that ruptured in 2005.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Ameren was seeking to have the project, which was finished in 2010, classified as a green energy project. The utility argued that the new reservoir leaked less and could be operated at a higher capacity in the winter, making it more efficient. Regulators rejected those arguments in a letter dated June 29.

An Ameren spokeswoman said the utility had yet to make a decision on its next step.

In a settlement reached in 2007, Ameren agreed not to charge customers for the cost of rebuilding the reservoir.

Panel OKs Missouri’s state debt refinancing

Two panels of Missouri regulators have given an initial okay to the refinancing of more than $500 million worth of debt.

Governor Jay Nixon proposed the refinancing in his budget address in January and the cost savings are built into the fiscal year 2013 budget which began on Sunday.

The state expects to save about $44 million by lowering its interest rates. The governor says Missouri is able to complete the refinancing because it’s maintained a good credit rating.

Hot weather helps Mo. winemakers

Jacob McCleland contributed reporting from Cape Girardeau.

The hot weather is wreaking havoc on corn and soybean crops, but it's good news for some Missouri winemakers.

Younger grape vines may have trouble dealing with the prolonged drought, as will winemakers without irrigation systems. But older vines are hardy, and produce high-quality wines in low-rain years.

Jerry Smith owns River Ridge Wines in Commerce, Missouri. He says the last time there was a prolonged drought in 1999 was one of the best years for wine in the state.

"The Cynthiana just looked at in our vineyard that we picked in 1999, I think was 26 percent sugar, produced wine that was 16.3 percent alcohol, which is unheard of from the Midwest. But there you were," Smith said.

Smith says he had to spray for Japanese beetles earlier this year as grape crops are three weeks ahead of schedule. But he says the pest is under control.

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