In a 5-0 vote, the Missouri Public Service Commission has approved to allow Liberty Utilities-Empire to build a 600-megawatt wind farm to service customers in Southwest Missouri, a scaled back version of the 800-megawatt proposal. The $1.5 billion project would bring hundreds of wind turbines to the area.
Empire still has plans to close its Asbury coal-fired plant over a decade earlier than originally planned. However, they have agreed to delay the closure and scale back the mega-wattage produced. The Asbury plant underwent $120 million in upgrades in 2015. Empire officials believe the average consumer could save $10 per month on their electric bill over time.
In a press release, the Commission determined that Empire had presented credible and persuasive evidence that the Customer Savings Plan, if implemented as contemplated in the Joint Position filed by several parties in the case, would generate customer savings of approximately $169 million over 20 years and approximately $295 million over 30 years, relative to Empire’s current resource plan, and significantly reduce financial risk for Empire’s customers. The Commission noted that the millions of dollars in customer savings and the addition of renewable wind energy resulting from the CSP and the Joint Position could be of considerable benefit to Empire’s customers and the entire state.
Renew Missouri, a not-for-profit group that focuses on renewable energy and efficiency around the state was pleased with the decision.
“This is not only a win for renewable energy,” said Executive Director James Owen, “this is a win for the local economy in Southwest Missouri. More and more, large companies are basing their decision on locating to areas where they have access to sustainable energy. We have seen businesses invest in neighboring states like Iowa – where the government and utilities have committed to wind power production – while leaving Missouri in the dust.” The decision today, Owen adds, hopefully begins to move Missouri into becoming more economically advantageous.”
“There are also numerous benefits to ratepayers in general. States such as Colorado have shown wind production is so inexpensive that it’s cheaper for customers to have a plant close and to build a wind farm than to simply leave the plant open. Wind is becoming more reliable and more reasonable. It makes a lot of sense from the perspective of a household budget,” added Owen.
Newstalk KZRG has reached out to Empire for comment.