- The Missouri House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on a bill allowing utilities to boost fixed charges for rooftop solar customers by as much as 75%, though renewables advocates warn the decision could drive jobs out of the state.
- The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives drew up House Bill 340, but it now appears the measure would apply to investor-owned utilities as well. Springfield News-Leader reports the bill would allow Springfield's municipal provider, as well as Ameren, to raise fees.
- While power providers say they are concerned about cross-subsidization, the bill also follows a Missouri Energy Initiative study finding net metering is a positive for all electric customers in the state, reducing costs and emissions.
A Missouri House bill that would allow greater fixed fees on solar customers has drawn the ire of renewables advocates who say it will do serious damage to the state's distributed solar industry.
Springfield-based Sun Solar CEO Caleb Arthur the the News-Leader that utilities want to "destroy our industry over them being upset that they have competition with people wanting to go solar." According to the newspaper, the state has more than 2,000 solar-related jobs.
HB 340 would allow utilities charging $20 in fixed fees to levy an additional $15 charge on solar customers.
The bill says it would allow charges that are "reasonably calculated to prevent unfair subsidization by recovering that portion of the supplier’s fixed cost plus the demand charges attributable to and necessary for connecting the eligible generating unit to the supplier’s system and otherwise providing electric service to the eligible customer-generator."
The bill also specifies that the state's Public Service Commission may require solar customers to maintain a "reasonable amount of liability insurance coverage or other equivalent respecting the installation and operation of the qualified electric energy generation unit."
While the debate mirrors net metering issues taken up in other states, it is not Missouri's first rodeo. In 2014, renewables advocates sued the Missouri Public Service Commission to stop it from granting the utilities' requests to end solar rebates in the state.