Great Rivers’ Climate and Energy Program works to address climate change and promote public health by decreasing carbon pollution and encouraging cleaner energy. Missouri’s electricity is among the most coal-intensive in the country, at 70%. Almost no coal is mined (or oil or gas drilled) in Missouri, and we have good wind and solar potential. Our utilities’ coal-burning power plants are old and lack up-to-date pollution controls, which keeps them relatively cheap at the expense of the public’s health and a stable climate. Our challenge at Great Rivers is that Missouri’s monopoly utilities are determined to keep these plants running until they wheeze their last gasp and collapse in a pile of rubble.
As the urgency of the climate crisis increases, strikes and protests have become common tools for citizens to demand change from their governments. Great Rivers works through the courts to reinforce those efforts.
One way we have advanced clean energy policy in Missouri was by writing the original net metering bill, which passed the legislature with some changes. Net metering lets customers put solar panels on their roofs and get credited on their utility bills for the electricity they generate.
In addition, we wrote Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard, which passed by public vote in 2008 with 66% in favor. When Empire District Electric sneaked a bill through the legislature to exempt themselves from paying rebates to help customers install solar, we took them to the Missouri Supreme Court and got that law struck down.
Northeastern Missouri is home to multiple wind farms as a part of the state’s efforts to increase clean energy use.
Great Rivers appears regularly at the Missouri Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulator. Where environmental voices were never heard before, we represent groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and Renew Missouri. We help them argue for utilities to offer energy efficiency programs to help people save energy and money; for utilities to build wind and solar farms, which are now too economically sound to ignore; and for electrification of transportation, which is the way to get off our oil addiction and clean the air. We pushed for approval of a wind-only transmission line from Kansas, which finally succeeded after five years.