The Secretary of State has approved for circulation three initiative petitions submitted by James Owen (SOS petition numbers 2020-113, 2020-114, and 2020-115). They call for a statutory amendment to the portions of Chapter 393 that pertain to Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard.
Each petition presents text of the current statute and modifies it with bracketed deletions and underlined additions as is the convention for rule modifications.
All three petitions contain section 393.1025(5), the definition of renewable energy, which appears unchanged. But wait. Put on your specs and look more closely. Within the lengthy paragraph lie a well-camouflaged open bracket and a closed bracket several lines later. They remove 82 words from the definition.
Those tiny brackets removed from the definition all forms of renewable energy except wind and solar. No more hydroelectric. No more cellulosic residue. No more methane from landfills and waste treatment facilities. No more crops grown for energy. I believe I’m detecting a tinge of something rotten in the state of Denmark.
If that’s not enough, take a look at petition number 2020-115. It requires 100 percent of all electricity from electric utilities to be produced by renewable energy sources by the year 2050. Now with wind and solar as the only legal renewable energy, all the other renewables, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy will be forever banished from the state of Missouri after 2050.
The other two petitions are a bit less radical in their compliance schedule. Petition 2020-113 requires 50 percent renewable energy by 2040, and petition 2020-114 requires 50 percent renewable energy by 2035. It is not clear which of the three petitions will be chosen for distribution. All three petitions limit renewable energy sources to wind and solar.
For comparison, California requires 60 percent renewable energy by 2030 but embraces renewable energy forms other than wind and solar. However, California is certainly not a candidate for emulation. Their electric rates are double ours. Pacific Gas and Electric, the power provider for two-thirds of the state, is bankrupt. The state’s electrical infrastructure is in shambles. They purchase a third of their power from other states. The governor is so distressed by the derelict electrical system he is threatening a state takeover of PG&E. Good luck with that.
The ambitions of Mr. Owen and the parties he may represent are beyond extreme, and the legislation they seek is the very antithesis of a free and competitive energy marketplace.
For the voters of Missouri, the moral of this story is: Do not sign an initiative petition unless you know what’s in it, and you may need a magnifying glass to be sure.
Ron Boyer is a member of the Missouri Air Conservation Commission.