August 1st, 2012
In 2012, Great Rivers reached a settlement with Ameren Missouri in which Ameren agreed to invest $147 million in energy efficiency over a three-year period.
On August 1, 2012, the Missouri Public Service Commission approved Ameren Missouri’s new energy efficiency programs. These programs will result in the most significant energy efficiency efforts ever made in Missouri. Ameren agreed to invest $147 million over the next three years into energy efficiency programs, which will result in $500 million in customer benefits over the next twenty years. Residential and business customers will be eligible to receive financial assistance to make changes that will lower their energy consumption and electric bills. In late October Great Rivers’ clients reached a similar agreement with KCP&L-Greater Missouri Operations (GMO, formerly Aquila). GMO plans to spend $39 million with benefits of $149 million. The utilities get to keep a share of these benefits Great Rivers’ attorney Henry Robertson has taken part in hundreds of hours of meetings and conference calls with the Public Service Commission staff, Ameren employees, industrial energy users, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. In those meetings Robertson, who represented Renew Missouri, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club, pressed Ameren and the PSC to strengthen Ameren’s energy efficiency programs while protecting ratepayers. These agreements represent real progress, but they are not ideal. They follow the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act of 2009 (MEEIA), a law designed to give utilities incentives but not obligations. Ameren and GMO are rewarded more handsomely than utilities in other states that are achieving much more. This matters because they are, after all, spending ratepayers’ money. Customers who do not directly participate in the programs will see a slight increase in bills in the short term, but the energy savings should pile up and bills go down. Meanwhile, everyone benefits as the need to build expensive new generating plants or retrofit old ones is deferred or even eliminated.The challenge now is to leverage the energy savings into getting the utilities to shut down their oldest, most polluting power plants. Missouri could also benefit from a law of the kind that exists in Illinois and many other states that requires utilities to reduce the demand on their systems by at least a fixed amount (e.g. 0.5%, then 1%, the 1.5%) each year; such a law is called an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard or Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the summer of 2012 was the third hottest summer on record for the contiguous United States since recordkeeping began in 1895. Arctic sea ice has fallen to a new all-time record low. In the past 50 years, the population of Peary Caribou has decreased by more than 84%. Missouri utility companies should stop putting profits ahead of the fate
of the earth and make serious efforts to reduce carbon emissions by using energy efficiency, solar and wind.