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Mo. bill seeks to improve energy infrastructure

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2013 at 11:25 am •  Published: January 27, 2013

State Public Counsel Lewis Mills, who represents ratepayers before the Public Service Commission, said the legislation would make significant changes. He said the infrastructure surcharge for gas companies came as they were facing difficulties in replacing aging gas mains. He said there is not the same safety impetus in this case.

"You don't want electric lines falling down everywhere, but that's not a kind of chronic condition like the deteriorating gas mains were," he said.

The Senate legislation has support from 16 other senators, including five Democrats and the top two Republican leaders.

Energy issues have gained attention in the Missouri Legislature in recent years. And in November, the U.S. Department of Energy passed the state over for a grant for a plan developed by Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse to develop small modular nuclear reactors in central Missouri. The federal agency has said it plans to issue a "follow-on solicitation" seeking further modular reactor projects.

Allowing the infrastructure charge for electric companies could improve Missouri's position, supporters of the legislation say.

Irl Scissors, executive director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future, said new energy technology requires newer transmission lines.

"The state needs to upgrade its infrastructure," Scissors said. "I think the electric consumer wants to see upgraded power lines and power sources in Missouri, and this is a way that the electric utilities can focus on doing that."