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Energy friendly economy?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A new senate bill signed into law July 13 by Gov. Jay Nixon will spawn energy efficiency, create jobs and stem an energy friendly economy.

Senate Bill 376, also known as the Energy Efficient Investment Act, was created to meet Missouri's ever increasing demand for electricity while being eco-friendly and inexpensive for consumers.

According to the governor's office, "(The bill) sets a goal for Missouri's investor-owned electric utilities to achieve all cost-effective savings possible from energy efficiency programs. It provides the Public Service Commission with the ability to encourage cost-effective energy efficiency by making utility investments in energy efficiency programs for their customers at least as profitable as building new power plants or making capital investments. Energy efficiency programs, which require Commission approval, must be cost-effective or in the public interest, result in energy savings and be beneficial to customers in the customer class in which it is proposed. The bill allows the Commission to develop cost recovery mechanisms for approved programs."

Gov. Nixon visited several businesses focused on cost-effective energy saving plans and creating more jobs to promote the bill. "Energy efficiency saves customers money, creates jobs and is good for our economy," Gov. Nixon said. "Missourians spend approximately $20 billion each year on all of our energy needs and import nearly 95 percent of the primary energy sources we use. By becoming more energy efficient and reducing our expenditures on energy, we keep more of these energy dollars in Missouri's economy and in Missourian's pockets."

Aspects of this bill would encourage businesses to create more cost-effective, energy saving plans while creating more jobs in the process.

"Missouri currently stands at the crossroads of how to best meet our energy needs," Sen. Brad Lager, a sponsor of the bill, said. "In order to help keep energy costs from continuing to rise dramatically, it is critical that we must become more efficient and effective with our current consumption. With the passage of this bill and the adoption of energy efficient practices, Missourians can dramatically reduce their energy consumption and benefit immediately from the savings. Now, energy companies can partner with their customers to better utilize the energy they currently consume.

"Energy efficiency programs are the cleanest, easiest and quickest ways to protect our precious resources and energy efficiency programs are a vital component of any successful comprehensive energy policy. Senate Bill 376 finally adds this tool to the toolbox."

Myles Smith, manager of member services at Howell-Oregon County Electric Cooperative, said, "That particular bill does not impact us specifically."

He said the bill affects investor-owned utilities not not-for-profit coops such as Howell-Oregon County Electric.

"Rural coops long have been in the energy efficiency business," Smith said. He said years before the bill was created, the coop promoted energy efficient products such as ground source heat pumps and more efficient insulation.

Smith said for 15 plus years the coop has offered rebate programs for energy efficient upgrades.

"We've always encouraged energy efficiency," Smith said.

The Energy Efficiency Investment Act will officially be enacted Aug. 28, 2009.

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