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State officials propose comprehensive energy plan for Missouri

Ameren Missouri

Missouri's Department of Economic Development has unveiled 17 recommendations for how Missouri should use and conserve energy.

The recommendations are the end result of an executive order Gov. Jay Nixon issued last year that was intended to "chart a road map toward a more prosperous, secure and sustainable energy future."

There will be more recommendations coming soon — more than 100 of them, according to Kristy Manning of the Department of Economic Development.

"(Wednesday's) executive summary kind of gives you the broad stroke." Manning said, "Then there'll be much more specific recommendations once the full plan comes out."

So far, there is no specific mention of whether the state should change the amount of coal used to generate electricity.

"Knowing that affordability is at the center and the core of a lot of our recommendations, you won't see (more) recommendations that move us completely away from coal," Manning said.

There's also no game plan yet for implementing the recommendations, but legislative action will be necessary for much of it. 

"There will likely be a blend," Manning said. Some recommendations can be handled administratively, some would require legislation and some would need regulatory action, she said.

Legislative action is not certain, given the numerous clashes in recent years between Nixon, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

Ed Smith with the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition likes most of the recommendations, but says he's disappointed that climate change was not mentioned in the executive summary.

"To put forth a comprehensive energy plan for the state of Missouri without recognizing climate change as a reason for the need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, it's kind of frustrating," Smith said.

The recommendations are somewhat broad and are divided into five categories:

Efficiency of Use

  • Modifying the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act 
  • Improving the state's water infrastructure
  • Improving the state vehicle fleet 
  • Developing statewide building energy codes
  • Utilizing Missouri's PACE (property assessed clean energy), improving Missouri's energy loan program and expanding Missouri's linked deposit program
  • Expanding energy improvements in state facilities

Energy Affordability

  • Developing residential energy efficiency programs for hard-to-reach sectors
  • Maintaining business affordability and competitiveness

Diversity and Security of Supply

  • Strengthening Missouri's renewable energy standard
  • Improving Missouri's interconnection and net metering rule
  • Establishing comprehensive solar energy system rights
  • Expanding combined heat and power applications
  • Planning for smart grid
  • Accelerating grid modernization

Regulatory Improvements

  • Reforming the rate-making process

Innovation, Emerging Technologies, and Job Creation 

  • Facilitating public-private investments in resources and technology
  • Investigating biomass co-firing opportunities

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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