JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In light of new net metering rules by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), a lawsuit filed by an environmental coalition challenging solar rebate caps has been voluntarily dismissed.
The solar rebate program came to be in 2008 when 67 percent of Missourians voted in support of Proposition C to create a renewable electricity standard. Since the creation, net metering rules were created by the PSC in 2010 and updated by the legislature in 2013. The rules regarding the program were updated this month by the PSC, essentially making the lawsuit irrelevant, which was predicated on rules created in 2010 by the PSC.
The standard and ensuing rules have been continually contentious legislatively and legally, being the subject of a Supreme Court case in February, which overturned a law passed in an attempt to preempt parts of the proposition.
The cap is currently set at one percent, which is contingent on financial projections for the affected utility companies. The Ameren cap’s funding level currently is fully subscribed at $91.9 million. Consumers generating wattage beyond the cap may not receive refunds, which irritates many environmentalists and solar investors.
Mollie Freebairn, Show Me Solar chairwoman and executive director, told The Missouri Times that the law is “fatally flawed” and despite the rule changes, questions the ongoing changes to the mandate in light of the original proposition.
The dismissed lawsuit asked that the PSC not grant utilities permission to end solar rebate payments, which lawsuit plaintiff Save Our Lawfully Authorized Rebates LLC (SOLAR) hopes to continue to see for generating customers. The group also believes the rebates to be required by the renewable mandate.
The coalition’s legal team, led by leading environmental lawyer Stephen Jefferey, also challenged the utilities’ calculations, saying utilities have claimed rebates have been scheduled, but rebate applicants continue to sign up for the program without seeing rebates.
Ameren’s website for customer-owned generation states that there are no cash rebates currently available, but shares application information and applicable deadlines.
The former plaintiff does not have plans to immediately jump back into another law suit, but will continue to evaluate options.
SOLAR is a coalition formed by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, solar installers and homeowners, who have been seeking rebates for solar systems.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.