Connecting Economic Development to Our Energy Future
Recently, a local television station aired a special report featuring the Callaway Energy Center’s refueling outage, which started in early October. Every 18 months these refueling outages, at the nuclear power plant, create more than a thousand temporary jobs in my Senate district. So, the connection between energy and economic development is obvious in our community.
We take pride that our district is home to Missouri’s only commercially operating nuclear plant. Its clean, carbon-free and low-cost energy serves more than just Callaway County and the 10th Senatorial District; it provides electricity to much of our state. But we can and must do more on this issue.
I was very excited to see a recent announcement by Ameren Missouri that it will create 700 megawatts of new wind energy in the next few years, much of which will be built in Missouri. This wind energy will create economic development in the form of new jobs resulting in additional tax dollars going to local schools.
The counties of the 10th Senatorial District can leverage their great resources to create renewable energy. Enginuity Worldwide, located in Mexico, Missouri, has patented technology to turn unused agricultural products into coal-like pellets that can be burned as a coal substitute to generate electricity. In addition to producing clean biomass energy, this technology represents a new economic development opportunity for Missouri farmers. Furthermore, Ameren Missouri’s 10-year forecast calls for 20 times more solar energy than we have in our state today. There is a site in the 10th Senatorial District that is ready for solar energy and would result in the single largest solar energy center in our state.
But, new energy and economic development may be at risk if lawmakers don’t act. Forty-six other states have updated energy regulations to unlock investment and modernize their energy systems, which include clean energy. Missouri’s energy laws were put in place in 1913 and need to be updated to fully modernize the electrical grid and bring clean energy and new jobs to Missouri. Instead this century-old regulatory model has increased energy costs in Missouri four times faster than the national average over the last decade. I support a plan to control energy costs for business and residential consumers. Stable and predictable energy rates play a vital role in attracting new businesses to Missouri, and also allow for investment in new energy generation and transmission projects.
So, as we are just a few weeks away from pre-fling legislation for next year, I call on my Senate colleagues to support a small change to our state’s 100-year-old regulations in order to create jobs and prevent rate spikes. Rural and urban areas of Missouri can benefit from this plan. Many Missourians in rural communities will see new job opportunities as new generation is built in their area, and all Missourians deserve a break from constantly fluctuating and increasing energy costs.
Just as the Callaway Energy Center is bringing a thousand temporary jobs to my area this fall, the plan I support will bring thousands of permanent jobs to Missouri. Updating Missouri’s energy policies will support much-needed energy grid investment which will create jobs, provide for more stable, predictable and lower energy costs. Through effective public policy, it is easy to connect economic development to Missouri’s energy future!
It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.