Mo. Rejects Renewable Power Mandate

Published June 1, 2006

While city administrators in Cottleville, Missouri endorsed new taxes to pay for their proposed “green” city hall, state legislators rejected a proposal to force a renewable power mandate on the state’s citizens.

In a 22-10 vote, the Missouri Senate voted not to require the state’s electric utilities to generate at least 10 percent of their power from renewable sources. After rejecting the mandate, the Senate in a voice vote approved an alternative measure directing utilities to “make a good faith effort” to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

“Targets, rather than mandates, are preferable because we don’t know what the economic impacts of mandates would be,” Chuck Caisley, president of the Missouri Energy Development Association, explained in the February 27 edition of the Kansas City Star.

Demand Minimal

Carla Klein, director of the Missouri Sierra Club, countered that mandates are necessary to force utilities to supply solar, wind, and other renewable power.

“We feel the mandates are required to really push renewable energy forward,” Klein told the Star.

Klein’s assertions are supported by data regarding voluntary green power programs. When utilities have offered customers the option of purchasing power from traditional sources or paying the price premium necessary to generate renewable power, typically only 1 or 2 percent of customers have decided renewable energy is worth the price increase.

“It is not surprising that renewable power advocates seek to use the legislature to force people to purchase a product they don’t want,” said Tom Tanton, a senior fellow with the Institute for Energy Research. “When people are allowed to see the true cost of renewable power and are given the option of purchasing it, they invariably say no. Renewable power only sells when people are kept in the dark about their personal financial price burden.”

— James M. Taylor