The Missouri Times is previewing pre-filed legislation during the month of December, bringing you an insider’s look at bills that could potentially drive session next year. Follow along with our Legislative Preview series here.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s utility companies could get financial help switching to renewable natural gas under a new bill filed in the Senate this week.
SB 141, sponsored by incoming Sen. Jason Bean, would require Missouri’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a renewable natural gas program for gas companies. The commission would enact reporting requirements and a process to recover expenses from the program through an automatic rate adjustment clause. The funds would go toward installing and maintaining the equipment needed for the program.
Bean said he sponsored the bill because it would allow utility companies to offset the cost of adopting a renewable natural gas program in the short term and yield more benefits for the state in the future.
“In the long term, the hope is that it will lower the price of natural gas,” Bean told The Missouri Times. “Currently, most of Missouri’s natural gas comes from other states, like Oklahoma, and this would encourage Missouri to be a producer. It would allow companies to go to any place that produces methane — like a landfill, a water-waste management facility, an animal waste plant — and install the equipment to convert methane into fuel and add it into the pipeline.”
Other states, including Oregon and Nevada, have implemented similar cost-recovery programs recently. Bean said local gas providers had been talking about the result of the changes across the country over the years and came to him with the idea when he won his bid for the Senate last month.
“We’ve seen this in other states, and some people in the natural gas industry approached me about it,” he said. “I’m a farmer myself, and I understand animal agriculture and some of the problems they have had as costs have increased, so that’s why they looked to me. I knew this had been successful in other states, and anytime you can increase renewable fuel and create jobs, how great is that opportunity?”
Bean, a fifth-generation farmer who has served on the United Soybean Association, said legislation that helps farmers and workforce development would be a major focus of his tenure in the statehouse.
“I think it’s a good concept because waste is a problem in animal agriculture, but this takes that problem and puts it towards a natural fuel solution,” he said. “For those who would qualify for these projects, there are a lot of benefits. It’s a potential income source for them since they’re producing it themselves, and it’s also a job creator. It takes workers to install these generators as well.”
“I’m a big supporter of biodiesel and ethanol, so this is exactly the kind of thing I want to see,” Bean said. “If you can take animal waste that creates a problem and convert it into fuel for Missouri, I’m all for it.”