JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians originally in favor of a 2008 renewable energy proposition said the passage of a House bill to change the requirements will undermine their vote.
Under the proposition, energy companies, such as Ameren Missouri, need to meet a “renewable energy standard.” This means a certain, increasing percentage of the energy a company produces should be a new, renewable energy including the three types of power mentioned above.
Currently there is a quantity limit on the hydroelectric power that will count toward this standard. The bill changes the law to include all hydroelectric power, including already existing plants such as the Bagnell dam hydroelectric power plant operated by Ameren Missouri, originally excluded from the standard.
Clean energy groups, such as Renew Missouri, said if this bill passes the initiative built to encourage job creation and renewable, clean energy will change.
The House Committee on Utilities met to discuss the bill, which would change Proposition C, a 2008 law which called for a move away from coal and toward cleaner energies including hydropower, wind power and solar power.
At the hearing, homeowner Francis Baab of St. Louis county voiced her dissent for the proposed bill.
"Don't undermine the intent of what I went to go vote for,” Baab said.
Baab said despite her political views, she said the bill is not what she worked so hard to get passed. Baab and her husband purchased solar panels for the incentives Proposition C promised, and said she feels changing the intent of the proposition will undermine all of her work.
Opponents, including P.J. Wilson, the director of Renew Missouri, said this change does not promote “new” energies. Instead Ameren can continue to use their already existing hydropower plants to count toward the renewable energy standard and will have no incentive to start solar or wind plants.
Supporters of the bill, including Trey Davis, President of the Missouri Energy Development Association, said wind and solar power have an unfair advantage right now under Proposition C. He said since higher quantities of hydropower would not count, the creation of solar and wind power is in higher demand.
The costs to create wind and power plants would be passed on to the energy users utility bills, per the Missouri Public Service Commission’s approval.
But Davis said it’s more about creating an equal playing field for all three types of renewable energy, and not trying to give hydropower an advantage.
"Contrary to the folks on the other side's belief, this is not because we don't want to invest in renewables,” Davis said.
Davis said this proposition promised to create jobs, but he says the way it is hydropower plants are not encouraged to expand and create jobs. He added that the advantage solar and wind power plants have could cause hydropower to scale back and kill jobs.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, said Ameren did not ask him to file this bill.
But opponents like Wilson said the same about solar and wind power. Opponents argue if already existing hydropower plants are able to count for the standard, then there will be no incentive to create new plants, and thus create more jobs as promised by the 2008 proposition.
Wilson helped formulate the 2008 initiative. Wilson and his organization Renew Missouri oppose the bill.
“There would be no new jobs that would come from this (bill) there is no one here testifying that they would start a new business because of it, but I did have a solar installer yesterday tell me that he would close his business down if this bill passed." Wilson said.
While hydropower is the cheapest of the three, it requires the damming of rivers which can harm ecosystems.