JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Several large companies are asking the Missouri General Assembly to consider free markets and consumer choice as a way to open up access to renewable energy.

Walmart, P&G, General Mills, General Motors, Cargill, Unilever, and H&M addressed a letter to Gov. Eric Greitens, Speaker of the House Rep. Todd Richardson and President of the Senate Sen. Ron Richard asking them to consider the Missouri Energy Freedom Act.

“We are writing because we believe that it is important to have choice when selecting energy suppliers and products to meet our business and public goals,” the letter said. “A law opening up access to renewable energy — like the Missouri Energy Freedom Act — would allow large electricity users like us to purchase renewable energy from third-party providers through long-term contracts and reduce our cost of doing business.”

At issue is power purchase agreements, contracts between a company and a third-party for renewable energy. Missouri law does not currently allow businesses to enter into contracts directly with non-utility energy service providers, such as a wind or solar farm.  

“We believe that such a police — already proving itself in many states — would create a more competitive business environment and would help us to create jobs and contribute to an even more robust Missouri economy,” the companies, who employ thousands of people in Missouri, wire.

“The businesses on this letter are looking for more access to affordable renewable energy as part of their business strategy and their good citizenship,” said James Owen, Executive Director of Renew Missouri.  “We don’t want them looking to Iowa to find it.  Iowa offers much easier access to renewable energy and is attracting billions of dollars of investments and thousands of jobs from companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google.  They are moving to Iowa because they can get access to renewable energy there. They can not get it in Missouri, and that needs to change.”

According to the most recent Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index: State Leadership Rankings, compiled by the Retail Industrial Leaders Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, Missouri ranked 32nd in the nation.

PPAs would allow the companies to avoid power price fluctuations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meet consumer preferences and save money that can be put back into businesses and passed on to customers.

“For Missouri, allowing PPAs will create more jobs and opportunity for those who build, install, and maintain renewable projects, keep Missouri competitive with many other states that allow companies access to renewable energy choices, and promote a clean and healthy environment,” the companies write.

They believe that the “establishment of free markets and consumer choice, which do not undercut the business of incumbent electric power suppliers, is important.”

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.