- A bill that would allow rural cooperative and municipal power providers to increase fees on solar customers was easily passed by the Missouri House of Representatives, though its fate going forward is unclear.
- Midwest Energy News reports Sierra Club and Renew Missouri both believe the measure can be stopped in the Senate, despite a strong 102-51 vote in the House.
- House Bill 340 was authored by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, and would allow utilities to almost double fixed monthly fees for customers with rooftop solar.
Fixed fees at Missouri utilities vary wildly, Midwest Energy News reports, from roughly $10 at the investor-owned units, to $40 at some smaller power providers.
The bill Missouri lawmakers are considering would allow an additional 75% in fees on solar customers, potentially bumping them to $70.
Sierra Club's John Hickey told MEN that defeating the bill would be "doable, but it’s a challenge.”
Utilities serving less than 20,000 customers make up about 20% of the state's customers, and the new fees would make net metering less attractive for them. The bill also specifies that the state's Public Service Commission "may require that the customer-generator obtain and maintain a reasonable amount of liability insurance coverage or other equivalent respecting the installation and operation of the qualified electric energy generation unit."
Three years ago, solar advocates sued the Missouri Public Service Commission to stop it from granting the utilities' requests to end solar rebates in the state. The Missouri Energy Initiative released a study two years aho finding net metering helps the state reduce both costs and emissions.
According to the 2015 research, fewer than 10,000 residents use net energy metering, and most are customers of investor owned utilities Ameren Missouri and Kansas City Power & Light.