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Regarding Future Blackouts - A Letter to the Editor of the Platte County Citizen

February 28, 2021

Re:  Avoiding Future Blackouts

Dear Dennis,

I wish to offer the following background information and offer a practical solution in addressing the issues raised by Mr. Jim Shipman of Weston in the February 24th edition of your paper.

Missouri lacks a comprehensive, modern state energy plan, which other states have developed. Such a plan, as well as policies, would ensure supply and pricing characteristics meet demand for customers of all the state’s utilities. Furthermore, this plan would focus on job creation, economic development, environmental quality, energy security, resiliency (grid modernization) and health benefits. If developed and implemented properly, it would equally benefit consumers, businesses and utilities.

In 2007,  Missouri’s net metering law known as "Net Metering and Easy Connection Act" (Section 386.890; TAFP HCS SCS SB 54), was signed into law. It applies to all electric regulated utilities (AmerenUE, Evergy, Liberty Electric Company), municipal and rural electric cooperatives. Municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives are required by the law to adopt policies establishing a simple contract to be used for interconnection and net metering. This act was endorsed by the regulated utilities.

On November 4, 2008 Missouri voters approved the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) law by passage of Proposition C. The RES requires Missouri’s regulated electric utilities to meet defined percentages of total retail electrical sales by renewable resources starting in 2011.

These laws have provided Missourians access to affordable solar and wind energy, as well as has helped create and sustain local jobs for over 2,647 Missourians working for more than 109 solar companies in Missouri. Utilities benefit from the energy produced by these distributed generation resources. Excess renewable energy produced by these systems is put on the grid and shared with other nonrenewable customers, thus relieving grid stress and reducing the amount of energy needed to be produced by traditional generation. Consumers and business save money.

In the current legislative session, two bills HB539 and SB178 have been introduced by electric cooperatives to repeal portions of the state’s net metering law, which would negatively impact homeowners and businesses who generate their own power. Repealing it will result in increased rates to consumers and businesses, the loss of over one-third (800 plus) of the current jobs, and weaken the grid.

We power our home and business with solar, as well as utilize battery storage. The cost of solar and batteries has decreased and will continue to do so.  Incentives such as the Federal Tax Credit reduce the cost of installing solar.  

The problem Mr. Shipman calls out is due to the grid resilience, stress on the grid and networks that result in outages. Technologies such as solar and battery storage are available and affordable. The impediment to a deployment of technical solutions to this problem is political. Missourians deserve a state energy plan and policies that benefit everyone equally. Legislative leadership on these issues is imperative to avoid incidents described by Mr. Shipment from reoccurring.  Contacting your state representative and senator and telling them to support the creation of a statewide energy plan and not to repeal existing laws is the first step.  

Bob Solger

Platte County, MO  

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