In most studies, Missouri’s electricity grid ranks high in reliability and affordability. Missouri historically gets better electric service, at a lower price, than most states — a perfect combination for businesses and families.
This didn’t happen by accident. It’s a result of 100 years of state oversight, requiring utilities proposing new power plants, power lines and pipelines to bring their proposals before the Missouri Public Service Commission to determine if the project is in the public’s best interest. The PSC spends months evaluating these proposals, holding formal legal proceedings with expert witnesses providing testimony regarding the merits of the project. If the PSC deems the project will serve the public interest, the project can proceed.
This is of utmost importance to me and Consumer Energy Alliance, which supports all-of-the-above energy policies that ensure energy affordability, availability and reliability for all families and small businesses. The focus on public interest is also why we support the timely siting, approval and construction of energy infrastructure projects that can deliver energy to communities that need it, especially those struggling to make ends meet. We believe this can be achieved with common-sense regulations and processes which ensure our environment is protected while enabling beneficial projects to move forward.
And while Missouri has very reliable service, outages do occur, either because of storms or equipment issues, as do problems when trying to restore that service. That’s because too much of the state’s existing buildings and infrastructure are outdated and flimsy, particularly in many rural areas.
That’s why we need clear pathways to building new energy infrastructure in our country.
Unfortunately, the authority of the PSC, which has regulated Missouri utilities since 1913, has been compromised by a recent court decision that clouds the future of Missourians’ historically reliable service, and the projects which can improve it.
For example, what has typically been viewed as a common-sense approach based on years of experience did not happen, specifically with the Grain Belt Express project. Although the PSC determined that the project is in the public’s interest and will benefit the state, they were unable to grant the project approval to move forward, pointing to a recent appellate court case on a separate project as justification. The public policy implications are obviously problematic for the PSC and Missouri’s energy infrastructure.
New energy infrastructure brings cheap electricity, jobs, manufacturing, energy security and long-term energy assets. The real winners are families and small businesses who count on these projects to help keep their rates low and ensure that power is available to meet demand. We can’t afford the unpredictability of leaving our energy infrastructure future in limbo.
Missouri is the Show Me State. So, we’re asking the Missouri PSC to fix this problem and show the world that the state is indeed open for business.
Brydon Ross is vice president of state affairs for Consumer Energy Alliance.
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