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Issues

  • Net Metering

    Missouri co-ops are leaders and supporters of renewable energy. We pioneered wind energy in northwest Missouri and have 750 MW of wind on our system, as well as community solar projects. The Net Metering and Easy Connection Act is a state mandate first enacted in 2007 to promote solar and other renewable energy. Unfortunately, this mandate allows the privileged few who can afford solar panels ("Uncle Rich") to avoid paying their fair share of the co-op's total cost in having them on the co-op's system. The cost difference is picked up by the rest of the vast majority of co-op members who cannot afford their own solar panels ("Grandma Millie"). This unfair subsidy grows as more solar panels are connected to the grid. Worse still, the current law prohibits our locally-elected co-op boards from tailoring specific solutions to deal with this unfair subsidy and that are fair to all.

    Most co-op members are like Grandma Millie. The average income of our co-op members is between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. 40% have gross household incomes less than $50,000 per year with 16% making less than $25,000 per year. Only 47% are employed full time, 37% are retired or on a fixed income and 80% are over the age of 45.

    Some special interests continue to push proposals to expand the Net Metering Law in ways that will impose more mandates and increase the unfair subsidy. They ignore Grandma Millie. Our member-elected boards should have the flexibility to craft net-metering arrangements that meet the needs and circumstances of their individual co-ops and to set rates that are fair to both Uncle Rich and Grandma Millie.

    AMEC strongly supports HB 340 (Rep. Fitzwater) and SB 246 (Sen. Kraus) and is strongly opposed to any attempts to change the current Net Metering Law that does not allow for local elected co-op board flexibility and control.

  • Amendment 2 - Campaign Finance Limits

    Missouri’s electric co-ops have joined a federal lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of portions of Amendment 2, the Constitutional Amendment passed in November. While we are supportive of contribution limits, this amendment does not treat all entities the same which forced us to join the lawsuit.

    The co-ops are strongly opposed to certain provisions in Amendment 2 that prohibits our 47 member-owned, nonprofit co-ops from contributing to our political action committee (PAC) while at the same time allowing other companies and special interest groups that may have anti-co-op agendas to continue to make contributions to their own PACs. That is blatantly unfair, and we believe, clearly unconstitutional.

    Amendment 2 is nine pages long with fine print and contains more than just campaign finance caps. One section of Amendment 2 allows PACs to receive contributions from businesses and entities "formed under chapters 347 to 360" of the statutes. The problem is that Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives were formed under Chapter 394. Others also now barred from making PAC contributions include fraternal benefit societies, mutual insurance companies, state chartered banks, credit unions and any other entities not formed under Chapters 347 to 360.

    Whether this was a drafting error or whether the proponents of the Initiative Petition were targeting someone is unknown. It is clear that electric co-ops will be hurt while those with interests adverse to ours will not. Unlike other utilities, rural electric co-ops are nonprofit and are owned, operated and governed by our members. Missouri’s electric co-op members should be allowed to participate in the political process just like anyone else.

    AMEC along with others may be forced this session to seek legislation to correct those portions of Amendment 2 that the co-ops currently are challenging in court.

  • Eminent Domain

    As a general rule, co-ops usually do not have to resort to condemnation to acquire easements since the landowners in most cases are also our member-owners. There are, however, times when a co-op must exercise its power of eminent domain in order to provide the electric infrastructure necessary to serve its members. Balancing the legitimate interests of the landowner with the needs of the rest of the co-op members always has and will be a primary concern of the member-owners who control our nonprofit co-ops. The current law allows co-ops to continue to do just that. If not very carefully drafted, any change to the current law could disrupt that delicate balance to the detriment of all co-op members.

    AMEC strongly supports landowner rights, but would be forced to oppose any change to the current law that might make it more difficult and costly for the co-op general membership to acquire easements when the use of eminent domain becomes necessary.

  • Rural Broadband

    Modern broadband communication services have become a virtual necessity, but still are not available to many citizens who live in the rural areas of Missouri. Broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. In order to make broadband services available, the necessary infrastructure must be in place. Rural electric co-ops are already deploying fiber technologies to better operate their systems, for example in substations controls and security, dispatch, outage response and in providing "smart grid" applications for our members. The leasing to third parties of excess fiber capacity, as well as, the use of existing poles and facilities of co-ops in many cases is the most economically feasible, and rapid way to deploy broadband in rural areas. It also minimizes the impact on landowners.

    A federal trial court decision, now on appeal, threatens to halt the cooperative’s efforts to bring broadband to rural Missouri. We are awaiting the court’s ruling.

  • Move-Over Law

    Our emergency response crews need everyone’s help and cooperation when restoring service in times of storms and outages. Working on the side of the road is dangerous.

    AMEC strongly supports HB 85 (Rep. Redmon) and SB 187 (Sen. Hegeman) adding Utility vehicles to the Move-Over Law.

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