Missouri passes alternative energy initiative; politics kill other such efforts

A green-energy ballot initiative in Missouri, Proposition C, was approved by voters, calling for the state to increase the use of renewable energy to 15% by 2021, mandating steady yearly increases. Prop C made Missouri the 27th state to require its utilities to buy a set amount of power generated by renewable sources.

However, other such initiatives in various points west of the Gateway State went down to defeat. Colorado voted for Barack Obama and pro-green Senate candidate Mark Udall over oil-industry veteran Bob Shaffer—but struck down Amendment 58, a ballot measure that would have repealed more than $300 million in tax credits for oil and gas companies to pay for conservation and clean energy measures. Opponents of the measure portrayed it as a harbinger of higher energy taxes.

In California, voters rejected both Proposition 7, which would have required utilities to generate 50% renewable energy by 2025, and Proposition 10, which would have provided $5 billion for natural-gas vehicles in the state. The successful No on Prop 7 campaign argued it would have actually stunted clean-energy growth by discouraging small solar power and weakening regulatory oversight. Critics pointed to loopholes for utilities to avoid purchasing renewable energy, and a definition of renewable energy that excluded all projects under 30 megawatts.

Proposition 10 was vilified as a sop to the fossil-fuel industry in general—and in particular T. Boone Pickens, whose Energy Fuels Corporation contributed nearly $19 million to the Yes on 10 campaign. “California voters didn’t fall for a Texas oil tycoon’s $10 billion money grab, no matter how much he spent camouflaging it as green,” stated Richard Holober, spokesman for the No on 10 campaign and executive director of the Consumer Federation of California.

In San Francisco, voters rejected Proposition H, which would have mandated the city take over the grid from Pacific Gas & Electric and covert to 100% renewable energy by 2040. There have been several such efforts in San Francisco in recent years, and none have succeeded. Although previous ballot measures mandating increases in solar energy in the city have passed, PG&E has waged multi-million dollar campaigns against any calling for municipalization of the grid. (Dallas Morning News, Environmental Finance Online, Nov. 6; GreenTech Media, MarketWatch, WSJ Environmental Capital blog, Nov. 5)

See our last post on the global energy wars.