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Renew Missouri seeks to change PSC solar rules


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri nonprofit focused on renewable energy policy has petitioned the Public Service Commission (PSC) to change its rules pertaining to solar investments.

Renew Missouri is asking the commission to alter its rules to give utility-scale solar companies more access in Missouri. According to James Owen, the group’s executive director, current rules keep the amount of solar power that can be put into the grid too low.

“Renew Missouri does not believe [the rules are] in-line with other states that have seen their solar industry blossom and become an economic engine for those states,” Owen told The Missouri Times.

An increase would benefit the solar industry as well as promote infrastructure development and create jobs in Missouri, Owen said. The group contends the change would make Missouri more competitive in terms of solar production in the U.S.

The petition, provided to The Missouri Times, suggested the PSC changes the standard offer cap for purchases from a qualifying facility by an electric utility to 20,000 kilowatts, up from 5,000. The rates should also be updated annually, the petition said.

The petition pointed to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), the law passed by Congress in 1978 aimed at facilitating market access for small renewable energy generators and cogeneration facilities.

“To date, the Commission’s cogeneration rules have been ineffective at implementing PURPA and opening market access to diverse and least-cost, renewable generation in Missouri,” the petition stated.

“Private companies in North Carolina have invested more than $7.75 billion in solar and employ over 6,500 people, compared to Missouri’s investment of about $548.97 million and 2,819 employees,” Owen said in a statement.

“We have no doubt there is a desire to see this change from within the PSC, but red tape has made this common sense change cumbersome; red tape coming from politicians who say they believe in infrastructure investment and economic development,” he continued. “Renew Missouri wants to simply nudge past this paper shuffling and allow Missouri’s economy to be competitive rather than simply talking about it.”

Other parties will have about a month to make comments to the PSC, and the commission’s staff is expected to make a recommendation on whether to adopt the rule change by mid-July.

Earlier this week, NextEra Energy announced it was considering developing a large solar project in Cape Girardeau. A spokesperson for the wind and solar energy producer told The Missouri Times the project was “still very early in the development process” and had not officially filed with the PSC yet.