United States

United States

Ballot vote brings in Missouri law

Last month's election cycle in the US saw voters decide on a handful of renewable energy related state-wide ballot initiatives. The most prominent to pass was a renewable energy mandate in the Midwest state of Missouri that will now require utilities to source a rising percentage of their power from renewables, eventually reaching 15% by 2021. Experts say the overwhelming support expressed by voters shows that renewables mandates can be supported in even the most conservative, coal-dominated states.

"It really speaks volumes about what people's attitudes across the country are for renewable energy, so while it's exciting for what it does here in Missouri, I'm almost more interested in what it says in the larger national energy debate about renewables," says Tom Carnahan, who heads the Wind Capital Group. "It's a sign when a state like Missouri votes two to one on this, and I think Congress and the Senate will know what happened." Wind Capital Group is majority-owned by Irish company National Toll Roads.

The Missouri mandate brings to 28 the number of US states that have some form of a green energy law laying down a minimum standard for the use of renewables. Following the election, at federal level the energy debate is likely to include a renewed push to pass a similar nationwide law.

Missouri currently has 163 MW of installed wind power brought online exclusively through projects developed by Wind Capital Group in partnership with the renewables division of John Deere, the world's largest provider of farm equipment. Most of the state's wind is concentrated in the north-west. "Winds from the Great Plains and Iowa don't realise there's a border there," says Carnahan.

The specifics of the new law still need to be finalised by state utility regulators, but Carnahan expects it will grow the wind turbine market. "We think that it's a great driver for wind in Missouri and will hopefully get some utilities to think even beyond what they've done so far," he says.

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