Partnership for affordable power
Frank Stork shares joins with Duncan Kincheloe of the Missouri Public
Utility Alliance to encourage voters to support Amendment 4 on the November
by Frank Stork and Duncan
In just a few weeks, Missourians
will be voting on Amendment 4. The Amendment is designed to save on the
costs of strengthening the states electric resources. It would do
this by promoting cost-sharing partnerships.
Amendment 4 deals most directly with municipal utilities, which now have
special restrictions on partnership arrangements, but the proposal offers
benefits for all Missouri energy consumers as well.
Missouris electric cooperatives
and the electric utilities owned by Missouris municipalities have
much in common. Both are owned and controlled by the people that they
serve. Decades ago, wise planning by Missouri co-ops led them to join
together to organize the generation and transmission co-ops and Associated
By partnering, they were able
to build the power plants that shield co-op members from the wild prices
that are too common in wholesale power markets these days.
Constitutional Amendment 4
would let the states municipal utilities do the same thing. Some
would like to join together to develop new electric generation.
Amendment 4 is necessary for
these power plants to be financed as joint projects and remain controlled
locally instead of at the state level.
The amendment also promotes
opportunities for partnership projects between or among municipal, co-op
and investor-owned utilities, with each participants share regulated
according to its own structure municipal utilities by local officials,
cooperatives by their members and investor-owned utilities by the state
Public Service Commission.
These partnership opportunities
would encourage broader joint planning to strengthen the states
energy infrastructure. This will help us make sure that Missouri doesnt
become another energy-starved California.
Former Missouri Secretary of
State Bekki Cook, former Auditor Margaret Kelly and former state Public
Service Comission Chairman Karl Zobrist believe Amendment 4 will help
Missouri avoid a California-style energy crisis. The three former state
officials are among the leaders of the Yes on 4 Committee
campaigning for voter approval of the constitutional amendment in November.
utilities and rural electric cooperatives on an overall basis have enough
power plant capacity to serve their customers.
However, most municipal utilities
do not. The bulk of the 88 city-owned utilities are smaller systems that
cannot economically build individual plants to meet their needs. They
now buy electricity, often from out-of-state suppliers, and power contract
costs are becoming unstable and expensive.
Thousands of Missouri families
and businesses depend on city-owned utilities for electric service. These
utilities cant generate enough power to keep up with customer use.
They need Amendment 4 so they can partner and catch up with their customers
power needs most economically.
With electricity use expected
to grow almost 20 percent over 5 years, every sector of the electric utility
industry needs a plan to keep up with needs if Missouri is going to avoid
what happened in California. Passing Amendment 4 would let that planning
As the language on the ballot
makes clear, Amendment 4 creates no new costs and provides potential savings
of state revenue by preventing duplicate local and state regulation.
Unfortunately, the rest of
the language on the ballot isnt as clear about the content of the
amendment, so voters will have to remember that Amendment 4 deals with
utility projects. The text describing Amendment 4 on the November ballot
will read as follows:
Shall joint boards or
commissions, established by contract between political subdivisions, be
authorized to own joint projects, to issue bonds in compliance with then
applicable requirements of law, the bonds not being indebtedness of the
state or political subdivisions, and such activities not to be regulated
by the Public Service Commission?
This measure provides potential
savings of state revenue and imposes no new costs.
Amendment 4 will affect only a limited portion of Missouris needs,
so it is not a panacea for the states energy future. But its benefits
will be felt in a number of ways:
With energy costs
rising, sharing expenses is a common-sense approach to saving money.
Missouri will be less dependent on electric power generated in
Generating power locally will keep dollars and jobs in Missouri.
Local generation makes power delivery more reliable.
Missouri ownership of power generation helps keep rates more
stable and affordable than if power is bought on volatile wholesale
New power plants fostered by the amendment are more likely to
use cleaner and more environment-friendly technologies and fuels.
Keeping regulation at the local level will avoid duplicative
costs to the state.
At a time when much of the
nations power industry has experienced turmoil, Missouris
leaders have developed a sound and positive opportunity to save money
and reinforce the states energy resources. Amendment 4 means common-sense
partnerships for affordable power.
Call (573) 445-3279 for more
information about Amendment 4.
As CEO of the Missouri Public
Utility Alliance, Duncan Kincheloe serves as general manager of the Missouri
Association of Municipal Utilities, the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric
Utility Commission and the Municipal Gas Commission of Missouri.
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.