- The Missouri Supreme Court will hear Renew Missouri’s appeal in its case against the Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) for approving the Empire District Electric Company’s exemption from the state’s requirement that utilities get 2% of the 15%-renewables-by-2021 mandate from solar.
- An amendment from two state legislators attached to a 2008 bill, which provided sales tax breaks for energy efficient appliances, exempted utilities from the solar carve-out if they had 15% renewables when the mandate became law. Only Empire Electric qualified.
- After a Missouri appeals court sent a lawsuit challenging the exemption to the MPSC, Renew Missouri and solar advocates filed a complaint with the commission but the PSC decided the solar carve out “would impose an extra compliance burden” on Empire. Renew Missouri argued that the amendment was written at Empire's request and was intended to let them dodge the solar requirement.
The mandate with the solar carve out was set by a 2008 ballot initiative approved by two-thirds of Missouri voters. The mandate requires utilities to offer customers a $2-per-watt rebate for solar PV installations less than 25 kilowatts.
Renew Missouri wants the state’s Supreme Court to rule that the solar exemption granted in the bill amendment was effectively repealed by the ballot initiative that expressed the voters' will. Briefs from attorneys for Empire and the MPSC argue the commission correctly determined the legislatively-enacted exemption and the voter-approved mandate are not "irreconcilable."
This is a small part of an ongoing debate between solar advocates and regulators, in Missouri and across the country, over the roles of utilities and the private sector in the emerging solar industry.