Testimony: Environment Missouri opposes attacks on net metering, HB 539/SB 178

Environment Missouri's legislative testimony opposing anti net-metering bills in the House and Senate

Farm's barn house with solar panels
Farm barn solar panel- image by Reijo Telaranta from Pixabay
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Chairmen and Members of the Committees, 

As the Director of Environment Missouri, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization, I speak on behalf of our members across the state to request that you oppose HB 539/SB 178. If passed, these bills will effectively disincentivize rooftop solar in the state. In Missouri we are highly dependent on fossil fuels to power our homes and businesses, even when scientists continue to warn of the disasters of climate change. Instead of attacking solar energy and Missourians who have invested in solar panels, we should work to diversify our electricity generation, specifically with clean, renewable energy. This is why we are asking the committee to oppose HB 539/SB 178

As we saw recently, with freezing temperatures, our electrical grid is an antiquated, brittle system. How do we prevent what happened in Texas and Missouri from happening again? For starters, we would produce more of our power locally. Rooftop solar, energy storage technologies such as batteries, electric vehicles and community “microgrids” all have a role to play. 

Rooftop solar panels can be a difference-maker in extreme weather, and add value to Missouri’s grid, because they produce energy very close to where we use it. Solar users help limit the need to generate power at centralized fossil fuel plants and reduce the need for costly investments in power distribution and transmission. Those avoided costs are especially valuable during hot summer months when electricity demand spikes along with air conditioning use — and when solar panels are most productive. Since they generate electricity at the point of use, solar panels can also improve grid efficiency and save costs by reducing the amount of energy lost during distribution and transmission. Finally, solar resources diversify the state’s energy supply and reduce financial risks posed by volatile fuel sources. These grid benefits are valuable to the utility and to every ratepayer, not just those with panels on their roofs, reducing costs and improving service across the board. In order for us to prevent another energy crisis, we must encourage renewable energy adoption and can do this through net-metering. Net-metering is critical for Missourians to be able to invest in solar energy.

We can look to our western neighbors in Kansas who have also been through legislation and rate proposals attacking solar customers, to see some of the dangers of undermining net metering. When Evergy, Inc. decided a grid access fee for only solar users, this rate proposal ended up in the Kansas Supreme Court who found the proposal discriminatory. 

Utility companies continue to argue that Missourians with solar panels are making electricity more expensive for those customers who do not own solar panels. Policies that support solar development such as net metering prove well worth the investment when the full value of solar energy is taken into account. Numerous studies commissioned by state Public Utility Commissions that have included its full scope of benefits have found that distributed solar generation is worth more than its retail price, and that the benefits of distributed solar energy outweigh the costs of net metering. Without a full value of solar study in the state, it would be impossible for utility companies to know. That is because utility companies, who profit from our continued use of fossil fuels, continue to fight against expansion of solar use in the state of Missouri.

As the climate crisis looms, we must support Missourians who look to decentralize our current energy grid with renewable energy sources. We all want clean air and water for our future in Missouri, one way to do that is to continue the support of net-metering for solar users. 

We respectfully urge you to vote no on HB 539/SB 178. Thank you Chairmen and members of the Committees. 


Bridget Sanderson


Environment Missouri


Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

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