Gov. Jay Nixon unveiled his energy goals Friday afternoon before a group of CEOs and other leaders of major energy producers and industrial and commercial energy consumers during a visit to Washington University in St. Louis.
The meeting, which was sponsored by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, also featured a presentation on America’s energy future by Karen Harbert, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Century Energy Institute.
Nixon highlighted the need for clean, affordable energy for both national security and as an engine for jobs. He touted that Missouri has some of lowest-cost electric power in the nation, ranking seven among all states in affordable electricity prices.
To help combat rising fuel costs, St. Louis-area electric utility AmerenUE got the green light from regulators this week to raise its fuel adjustment charge on bills by $71.6 million, or from $1.66 to about $4.03 per month for a typical residential customer.
AmerenUE said it still needs to raise electric rates by 11 percent to $263 million to help pay for infrastructure improvements it’s already made to boost reliability.
Nixon praised the state’s relatively low energy costs by pointing out how AmerenUE’s biggest customer, Noranda, announced two weeks ago a $38 million expansion of it aluminum smelter in New Madrid County.
The governor said he’d like Missouri to become an even more significant net exporter of energy.
He also underscored the need to embrace science and technology and praised St. Louis-based Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and how they raise crop yields while using less fertilizer, water and pesticide.
Nixon also pointed to the algae biofuels research at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis as a step in the right direction.
“It’s critical to Missouri’s energy future that academia, industry and government maintain a strong, working partnership that is focused on innovation,” he said. “We will find cleaner, greener ways to extract and burn traditional fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas that will minimize the toll on our environment and on the public’s health.”