New Report Exposes Shortcomings in Missouri Utilities’ Climate Pledges

Sierra Club, one of our clients, released a report in April called The Dirty Truth about Utility Climate Pledges. It grades the nation’s biggest utilities on how they’re doing at retiring coal plants, renouncing natural gas plants and moving to clean energy. It gave Ameren Missouri a “D.” Evergy and Associated Electric Cooperatives, Inc, each got an “F.” The best a Missouri utility could do was a “C,” earned by Empire District Electric.

Missouri burns more coal for electricity than any other state except Texas. Great Rivers is before the Missouri Public Service Commission on several fronts, working for change so that our utilities wisely invest more of our ratepayer dollars in wind and solar.

Missouri burns the second most coal of any state in the country.

Ameren’s 20-year plan

On this matter, we represent Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Dutchtown South Community Corporation, New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, and the Missouri NAACP.  Although solar and wind power are cheaper, Ameren still insists that it’s the exception to this rule – if it is, it’s only because its coal plants are old and lack up-to-date pollution controls. Ameren claims it needs coal for reliability since solar and wind are intermittent, but it is missing the accelerating trend toward energy storage, especially utility-scale batteries they can use when the sun is down and the wind doesn’t blow.

Ameren is running a risk by trying to hang on to its coal plants while adding renewables: it has no right to make its customers pay for more power-generating capacity than they need, and we oppose its efforts to do so.  At the same time, Ameren is taking strides in providing clean, renewable energy to low income and minority communities.  We support these efforts.

Great Rivers supports the strides some local utilities are making to provide clean, renewable energy to low income and minority communities.

Ameren rate case

In this PSC proceeding we represent Sierra Club. Ameren is asking for a hefty additional ratepayer contribution of just under $300 million. It has just brought two large wind farms into service, but it says this will add minimally to our bills because most of the cost will be offset by federal tax credits and sales into the wholesale market.

Ameren also wants to expand its Community Solar Program, which lets customers subscribe to new solar facilities even if they can’t put solar panels on their roofs. They would make it much more widely available and allow people to subscribe for 100% of their usage instead of the current 50% limit. We support this.

Community solar programs make renewable energy more accessible to homeowners.

Evergy’s plan to electrify transportation

Evergy wants permission to expand incentives and charging stations for residential and commercial electric vehicles (EVs). We strongly support EVs if they will be able to charge with clean energy. Our clients Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council will be collaborating on expert testimony, which is sure to include recommendations on public transit and EV accessibility at multi-family dwellings and in lower- and moderate-income communities.

Evergy’s 20-year plan

Every three years each regulated utility updates its long-range plan. This coming year is Evergy’s turn. As with Ameren, we will be urging faster retirement of coal units, more wind and solar, and energy storage to smooth out the peaks and dips in sun and wind.

Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is a Missouri-based public interest law firm that provides free and reduced-fee services to individuals, organizations and citizen groups working to protect the environment and public health. We receive no government funding and rely on donations to sustain our work.

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