MO: Major utility-reform legislation brewing, again


Yet another legislative effort to overhaul Missouri’s electric-utility sector has been proposed. S.B. 190, which was pre-filed earlier this month, would:

  • Create the Missouri Economic Development and Infrastructure Investment Act, which addresses depreciation, capital-investment plans, and the treatment of regulatory assets.
  • Allow the PSC to use rate-adjustment mechanisms to promote modernization and replacement of a utility’s infrastructure, including incentive mechanisms for grid modernization and performance-based rate decoupling.
  • Allow utilities to recover costs for deploying certain generation, transmission or distribution technologies or equipment with which the utility has little or no operational experience — explicitly including renewables, microgrids and energy storage.
  • Allow “processed solid biomass engineered fiber fuel” to qualify for the state’s RPS and award extra credit for each kWh of energy generated from such fuel.

Just one day before S.B. 190 was pre-filed, the Missouri Public Service Commission issued a report addressing policies intended to improve the regulation of electric investor-owned utilities. For more than a decade, according to the report, Missouri’s investor-owned utilities have proposed legislation seeking to significantly alter how the PSC sets their rates, asserting that the state’s regulatory framework creates regulatory lag that effectively precludes utilities from earning their authorized return and disincentivizing needed capital investment.

The PSC’s report concludes that Missouri’s current regulatory structure has functioned effectively for over a century, and that there is no need for a massive, radical overhaul. It also cautions against enabling a formula rate process for utilities. (This process is currently used in neighboring Illinois.)