Missouri tries, tries again with PPA bill

You have to admire the optimism of Missouri's pro-solar legislators, who are trying for the third year in a row to pass legislation to allow third-party PPAs in the state.

You have to give credit to the hearty legislators in Missouri who are trying – for the third straight year – to pass a bill allowing power-purchase agreements (PPAs) in the state. They certainly don’t give up easily.

This year, House Bill (H.B.) 439 – named the Missouri Energy Freedom Act carries forth the mission. Introduced by Republican Rep. Bill Kidd, would allow PPAs to be used for projects that meet a minimum annual peak demand of 1 MW, which could result from a customer could aggregate multiple to meet the requirement.

As in the past, the HB 439 would allow large electricity consumers to purchase renewable energy directly from a producer instead of being shackled to its utility with no other option General Motorsavailable. Sponsors believe passing the bill would encourage more companies to locate in the state, creating jobs and goosing the state’s economy.

Solar advocacy groups like Renew Missouri and the Missouri Energy Consumers Group believe increased corporate support for the bill, which has been hard to come by in the past, could push the bill over the finish line this time.

As evidence, they cite a public letter in support of HB 439 has been signed by seven significant Missouri employers, including Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Unilever, General Mills, Target, General Motors and Nestle.

It’s worth noting that Target and Wal-Mart have consistently been the top two corporate consumers of solar power in the United States, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Means Business report. In 2016, Target inched past Wal-Mart for the top spot, a position Wal-Mart had held in each of the previous reports, which began in 2010.

Under current Missouri law, the inability to sign PPAs have limited construction of solar projects in the state. Despite this handicap, the solar industry employs 2,380 people in the state, ranking 29th in the country, according to the 2016 National Solar Jobs Census released yesterday. That number is a 28% increase over 2015.

According to a statewide survey conducted by a third-party polling firm, 75% of Missourians want more solar energy in the state.