Sunday, August 06, 2017
Ed Emery: Missouri must take action to update its energy grid
Jobs and investment, stable and predictable energy costs, hardening of the energy grid against cyber security threats and restoring power quickly after the lights go out are key drivers of business today. Is Missouri’s energy future bright? The answer to this question is up to state policymakers.
Progress has been hindered by 100 year old energy regulations. Missouri is one of only four states that has not updated its energy laws. Missouri’s laws were put into place in 1913 and have not been materially updated in more than a century. While other states are moving forward, Missouri has been stuck in a political fight. This gridlock has resulted in some serious consequences.
First, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy costs in Missouri have risen four times faster than the national average. Also, public testimony was provided to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment showing Missourians will pay $1.6B more in energy costs, over the next 20 years, due to the lack of grid modernization.
Energy reliability is important to businesses, because without steady and reliable energy, commerce stops. When it comes to keeping the lights on, Missouri ranks above average in two categories, but is lagging in one key measurement — turning the lights back on once there is a power outage. This ranking is directly related to the lack of grid modernization; and represents a direct cost to businesses while the power is out.
The electric grid is the backbone of Missouri’s economy and updates to our 100 year old policies are needed to spur economic development as we build a smarter, stronger energy grid for our state. As a result of working with stakeholders and legislators, the Missouri Economic Development and Infrastructure Investment Act (SB 190) was proposed this year. It represented a minor adjustment to our state’s energy policies that would have unlocked additional investment in the aging electric grid, helping businesses and creating jobs.
When this bill didn’t pass, Regulatory Research Associates (RRA) downgraded Missouri two notches from a regulatory perspective. We are now in the bottom rankings, with just seven other states. Over time, this downgrade could mean higher costs to consumers due to higher interest rates paid by utilities for borrowed dollars to make grid investments.
Will Missouri’s energy future be bright? Forty six other states have figured it out, and Missouri must take action before we are left in the dark.