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Mo Times: “After years of trying to advance a grid modernization bill, the Missouri Senate has

From Missouri Times:

There’s been much to do concerning this year’s version of the annual utility bill, but after much-heated debate and hours of time spent on the issue, the bill advanced through the Senate with a vote of 25-6, as did an emergency clause.

“The Senate’s 25-6 vote shows just how hard lawmakers worked to strike a sensible compromise that will upend the status quo and give Missouri customers the smart, secure and stable energy policy they have long wanted,” Warren Wood, Vice President of External Affairs & Communications for Ameren Missouri said in a statement. “We look forward to ongoing discussions in the coming weeks to ensure that this important legislation becomes a reality for customers.”

In its simplest terms, SB 564, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, would allow electric companies to recoup more of the costs from their customers for making improvements and modifications to the electrical grid. It would do that by allowing companies to be regulated under a different accounting method.

Major provisions of the bill would cap utility rates for five years at a level of 2.85 percent. It also would allow for the rates to be cut by more than $100 million per year by accelerating the process of the Missouri Public Service Commission to make up for the recent tax reform measures mandated at the federal level. That provision would be effective 90 days from the passage of SB 564, which cuts the time down considerably, whereas before it would have to be done before the PSC during normally scheduled rate cases, a process that could take years to finish across the state.

But passing the bill was no easy task. Last week, the Senate spent more than 24 hours dealing with the bill in an overnight filibuster before coming to a compromise on the language, with many assuming the bill would be third read and passed the following week.

Though he was not present due to a surgery, Senate President Pro Ron Richard issued a statement saying that updating the grid would promote job creation and economic growth, while also helping to keep and attract new businesses.

“Low electricity prices means Missouri businesses, including manufacturers, can operate at a lower cost,” said Richard. “Future jobs depend on low energy costs. This bill has the potential to create up to 3,000 jobs across the state, generate $65 million in tax revenue and enable an investment of more than $1 billion in grid modernization.”

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