Rep. T.J. Berry has pre-filed legislation that would cap average electric rate increases in the range of 3 percent annually. The rate cap idea has been proposed by consumers groups as a way of bending the cost curve downward for electricity.
According to federal data, Missouri electric rates have risen faster than all but four other states over the past decade. The Missouri Retailers Association, Missouri Grocers Association and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry have all indicated that the status quo on energy policy is hurting customers and the Missouri economy.
Berry’s legislation (HB 1575), which is similar to SB 564 filed by Sen. Emery, would also help unlock more than $1 billion in grid modernization work.
“Historically, low-energy costs have been a tremendous advantage to the Missouri economy and workers,” said Berry, R-Kearney. “But every year policymakers fail to act, rates rise and we lose more of that economic benefit. Forty-six other states have reformed their energy regulations, and are therefore able to provide better services, more efficiently. This is the year Missouri must cap electric rates, while encouraging efforts to make our energy grid smarter and more secure.”
Recently the Missouri Chamber of Commerce released its 2018 legislative agenda which was unanimously approved by its Board of Directors, including support for energy reform.
“The Missouri Chamber appreciates this movement towards compromise in solving Missouri’s energy challenges,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber of Commerce CEO. “The Chamber recognizes the advantage of affordable and reliable energy in retaining and attracting businesses to our state. The Missouri Chamber will support efforts and work with business leaders, utility providers, and community leaders to drive a collaborative long-term solution to address Missouri’s aging infrastructure while ensuring continued reliable energy at predictable and competitive rates for customers.”
Under the proposed legislation, the Missouri Public Service Commission would enforce average annual rate caps in the range of 3 percent. Any regulated utility that was approved for a rate increase above the threshold would pay a significant penalty and potentially lose new regulatory tools per the legislation. The PSC would retain the same authority it has today to regulate utilities, including keeping the burden of proof on utilities unchanged.
According to federal data, Missouri’s electricity rates have gone up approximately four times faster than the national average over the past decade. A rate cap in the range of 3 percent represents roughly half of what Missouri consumers have paid in increases annually over the past 10 years.
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