Fighting for Missouri’s Clean Energy Future
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SOLAR GROUPS FILE LAWSUIT TO PRESERVE SOLAR REBATES IN MISSOURI
St. Louis, MO (June 24, 2014) – On June 23, 2014, Save Our Lawfully Authorized Rebates, LLC (“SOLAR”) and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (“MCE”) filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against the Missouri Public Service Commission (“PSC”) asking the Court to preserve the payment of solar rebates in Missouri, as mandated by the passage of Proposition C in 2008.
The lawsuit states that Ameren Missouri and Kansas City Power & Light have recently filed requests with the PSC to end all solar rebate payments. “It’s been more than 5 years since Missouri voters approved a renewable energy standard and since that time we have seen one attack after another to erode the will of the voters,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE. “This lawsuit seeks to put Missouri back on track for a clean energy future that develops renewable sources now, for homegrown jobs, clean air and a healthier climate for our children. Without it we are laying off workers today in exchange for cloudy predictions by utilities that there may be jobs in the future,” added Navarro.
In 2013, in legislation advanced by the electric utilities, the Missouri legislature amended Proposition C in House Bill 142 to provide for a 7-year phase-out period for solar rebates. During the 7-year period, each affected electric utility is required to pay solar rebates on an annual calendar year basis up to a percentage of the utility’s total retail revenue.
During the legislative session, the electric utilities stated that the amount of solar rebates paid out was well short of the statutory cap. However, just after the end of the legislative session, the electric utilities announced they had miscalculated and the amount of solar rebates paid out had exceeded the statutory cap. In the lawsuit, SOLAR and MCE ask the Court to rule that the PSC overstepped its
authority in allowing the electric utilities to deduct speculative future expenditures for other renewable resources from the calculation of the amounts that should be paid for solar rebates in a given calendar year.
“In each utility’s Integrated Resource Plan, the utility estimates for the next ten-year period what its future expenditures could be for renewable resources,” said Heidi Schoen, the managing member for SOLAR. “Because there is no legal commitment or obligation to actually acquire or ever construct these future projects, the estimated future expenditures are speculative and cannot serve as a reasonable basis to calculate the amount of solar rebates that should be paid in a current calendar year,” said Stephen Jeffery, attorney for SOLAR and MCE. The lawsuit alleges that the PSC’s actions in allowing the electric utilities to make what should be a present-day financial calculation using these estimated future expenditures are unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.
Also, the lawsuit alleges that because the Integrated Resource Plans are required to be resubmitted every three years, future Integrated Resource Plans could very easily eliminate the estimated future renewable projects that had been used as the basis to reduce prior solar rebate payments, which further shows the unreasonable and arbitrary nature of the PSC’s actions.
On June 23, 2014, Judge Daniel Green entered a Preliminary Writ of Prohibition against the PSC directing the PSC “to refrain from further action” until such time the lawsuit is resolved. “The effect of the writ is to preserve the status quo regarding solar rebates pending the
Court’s final ruling,” said Jeffery. “Missourians have spoken and they want more renewable energy,” said Navarro. “Unfortunately, it takes lawsuits like this one to make sure our government and our utilities follow through,” Navarro added.
SOLAR’s membership consists of owners of small businesses affected by the termination of solar rebates as well as customers who have been denied solar rebates. MCE is a statewide environmental advocacy organization, working on a variety of issues that affect human and environmental health. MCE promotes the increased use of renewable energy, including solar, in Missouri. SOLAR and MCE will host a media availability session on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at the MCE office located at 3115 S. Grand, Suite 650, St. Louis, Mo.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Stephen G. Jeffery