According to a Kansas City Star article, Aquila built the $140 million plant in Cass County. The Public Service Commission, in a retroactive decision, approved the construction after it had already been done illegally. An appellate court ruled against Aquila:
Rep. Ed Emery, a Lamar Republican who leads a special utilities committee, said Friday that he had intervened because tearing down “a necessary power plant that cost that much, just to teach somebody a lesson and making customers pay for it, would be just silly.”
Cass County officials and other opponents said the bill would simply allow Aquila to circumvent the law. They also said it showed how cozy Aquila was with politicians and state officials.
An Aquila vice president said company representatives had begun talking with legislators earlier this month after an appeals court decision went against the utility. Emery said he had lunch with company officials on Monday.
“But since I chair the utilities committee, those are the people I’m supposed to be talking to,” Emery said.
The proposed bill would expand the power of the Missouri Public Service Commission by granting the agency new authority to approve a power plant even after construction.
The commission did just that last year with Aquila’s South Harper plant. But on March 4, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the commission “exceeded its authority” by approving a power plant that had already been built.
Obviously, the special interests are aware of who the chairman of the House Utilities Committee is. Missouri Ethics Commission records show Emery received three maximum $325 contributions from utilities sources during the final three months of 2007. Those came from Missouri Public Utilities Alliance, Empire District Electric Company, and of course, Aquila.