Kehoe: "Select few" large industrial companies are leaving us to pick up their tab
On Tuesday afternoon the Commerce Committee continued hearings on SB759 which would clarify provisions in Proposition C and would prevent radical environmentalists and large industrials from conspiring together on an initiative petition to increase Missouri’s renewable standard requirements. The marriage between the radical environmentalists and these large industrials is proof positive that politics does indeed make strange bed-fellows. The large industrials are not concerned about the environment or the amount of renewable energy in the state’s portfolio. They simply want to lower their exposure to the cost of meeting the renewable standards currently required by law. To do that, they joined with the radical environmentalists, sitting at the same drafting table, and authored an initiative petition that, if passed, would dramatically raise the costs for residential customers, small and medium-sized businesses to meet Missouri’s renewable standard. Quite simply, these select few large industrial companies made a pact with the anti-small business, anti-consumer, environmentalists to save themselves a ton of money and to leave you and I to pick up the tab for their savings.
During Tuesday’s testimony, The Public Service Commission, which serves as the regulatory body responsible for overseeing investor owned utilities and in front of whom all rate-cases are heard, provided numbers that confirm the significant cost increase of this initiative petition to residential customers, small and medium-sized businesses. Somehow though, citizen groups such as AARP and the Missouri Consumers Council continue to ignore the Public Service Commission’s numbers. They actively support an expensive, anti-small business initiative petition, and they continue to disregard the fact that their members will see costs for meeting the renewable standard rise dramatically even as a few big businesses receive a windfall in savings.
Of all the testimony I heard on Tuesday, the most disturbing was from the Office of Public Counsel. This state office was created by the legislature with the original intent and design to serve as a watch-dog for residential, agricultural, and small business customers in matters coming before the Public Service Commission. Unfortunately, this office has abandoned that mission and now appears to be motivated by two things: 1) Increasing its own funding without legislative oversight via the initiative petition, and 2) Doing the bidding for a select few large industrial customers at the expense of the very people the office was designed to protect. My fellow senators and I support a reasonable increase in funding for the Office of Public Counsel, subject to appropriation by the legislature, as long as the OPC stays true to its original mission of protecting residential, agricultural, and small-business customers. That the Office of Public Counsel openly admits that they failed to represent residential customers, agricultural customers, and small and medium-sized businesses on this initiative petition, while at the same time the petition dramatically reduces costs for a select few large industrial users (for one company, their costs would go from more than $1,500,000 annually to $1800 annually), is an insult to the legislative intent for the office. Further, it is causing many in the capitol to question whether a total overhaul of the office and a dramatic funding reduction in a future session and budget might be the only solution.
- Senator Mike Kehoe, "Kehoe Capitol Report", Week of 2/27/2012