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Missouri voters decide on renewable energy mandate

Missouri is primed to join the growing list of states with mandates for renewable energy following an effort spearheaded by Missourians for Cleaner Cheaper Energy (MCCE). It collected more than the required 90,000 signatures by last month's deadline to put a renewables mandate on the November statewide election ballot. "We tried to do this in the legislature for seven consecutive years," says MCCE's PJ Wilson. "But we needed to put it straight on the ballot so that the voters have a chance to vote on it. Nothing is guaranteed, but unless something strange happens it will pass. We're more than ready." Colorado voters have already shown that a strong renewables law can be passed through a state ballot. The Missouri mandate, endorsed by Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), will require investor-owned utilities to generate or buy 2% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2011 and ramp up to 15% by 2021. "We felt the proposal had all the right elements to it," says Matt Tidwell of KCP&L, which serves more than 500,000 customers in Missouri and Kansas as a subsidiary of Great Plains Energy. It owns the 100.5 MW Spearville wind farm in Kansas, but has no wind power in Missouri so far. Last year, however, the company issued a request for proposals to add 400 MW of wind in Missouri and Kansas by 2012. "We are actively pursuing that now," Tidwell says. "We're in the initial study stage but we certainly have an interest in investing in Missouri whenever possible." According to MCCE's Wilson, the mandate could result in as much as 4100 MW of new wind power by 2021, but no Missouri projects are currently in late-stage planning or under construction. The state ranks 20th in potential wind power capacity and 17th in operating capacity, with 162.5 MW online.

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