A Missouri Senate Committee on Thursday rejected legislation that would have let voters decide whether to deregulate the state’s electric energy market.
The Missouri Senate Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety voted down Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 34. The constitutional amendment stated that, if approved by voters in November 2020, the General Assembly would be required to pass legislation to establish an open and competitive retail electric market in Missouri.
Stakeholder groups said the bill would have had dire consequences for Missouri ratepayers and the state economy.
“If investor-owned electric utilities were deregulated through an action such as SJR 34, your local utilities like Ameren Missouri and Evergy would be required to divest all of their generation assets, meaning Missouri’s coal-fired and natural gas facilities, the Callaway Energy Center, and many others would be sold to out of state energy companies and hedge funds – entities that have zero relationship with Missouri communities and would only be looking for bottom-line savings for their millionaire and billionaire owners,” said Irl Scissors, executive director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future.
According to Scissors, Missouri’s average residential customer rates were the fifth-lowest in the country, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in October 2019.
However, Scissors noted the negative impact retail electric choice could have on electric customers.
“Missouri’s ratepayers would face the brunt of the backlash should our electricity markets be deregulated. You would see rate increases and fluctuations no longer administered by the Public Service Commission,” Scissors explained. “Ratepayers would no longer have a Missouri governing body as oversight and any recourse would have to be sought from the new governing entity, the federal government.”
He also added that, if the law were to pass, state consumer protection measures would no longer be in place. This would allow out-of-state companies with no incentive for low rates to enter the energy market in Missouri.