State Lawmaker Introduces Legislation to Protect Utility Consumers from Mandated Time-Of-Use (TOU) Energy Plans

By B.N. Frank

Most American energy consumers are NOT signing up for “Time of Use” (TOU) and “Demand Response” energy programs because of the risk that they would wind up with much higher bills if/when they use energy during “peak” hours.  Because of this, some utility companies have already started forcing consumers onto these programs (see 1, 2).  Now a state lawmaker in Missouri is fighting back.

From the Missouri Independent:

Missouri legislative leader files bill targeting time-of-use utility pricing plans

Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin expects energy regulation to be a ‘hot topic’ in the upcoming legislative session

By: Allison Kite

One of Missouri’s highest-ranking lawmakers hopes to stop state regulators from forcing electric utilities to charge a premium for power used at times of high demand.

The legislation filed by Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin was inspired by Evergy’s roll out of time-of-use pricing plans to its customers last summer, which included a plan that would have quadrupled customers’ charges for energy used at times of high demand.

The new rates were mandated by the Public Service Commission, a five-member board appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate that oversees investor-owned utilities in Missouri.

The goal of time-of-use rates is to save consumers money in the long run by limiting demand on the energy grid. But they immediately inspired public backlash, including from O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina.

“It’s not the job of the Public Service Commission to dictate to consumers the time of day that they can use power,” O’Laughlin said in an interview last week.

O’Laughlin said she expects energy regulation to be a  “hot topic” when the Missouri General Assembly returns to Jefferson City. In addition to her time-of-use legislation, she’s also sponsoring a bill she says would ensure grid reliability by requiring utilities to add at least an equivalent amount of energy generation to the grid before decommissioning a power plant.

Environmental advocates, however, fear that proposal would hamper utilities’ efforts to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Evergy, which is the largest energy provider in Western Missouri, began informing customers in June that power used between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the summer would cost four times as much as it does during other months.

That means, on a hot summer afternoon, running an air conditioner would become far more expensive.

Other pricing options, imposed by the Public Service Commission, were less dramatic. But that pricing plan caught O’Laughlin’s attention. She railed against what she referred to as “woke” energy policies.

Time-of-use pricing is meant to encourage customers to limit their energy consumption at times when energy demand is high. By limiting the peaks of demand, the idea is to save utilities from having to build more power generators, which customers end up paying for.

Citing the pushback, Evergy asked the Public Service Commission in September to allow it to make time-of-use pricing optional, citing the “substantial” number of complaints it received where customers accused the company of trying to “spike customer bills to increase profits.”

The Office of the Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers before the Public Service Commission, argued that the rates should still go into effect, citing Evegy’s studies that show customers will largely benefit.

Clean energy advocates with Renew Missouri put it more starkly, saying Evergy needed to better communicate with its customers “rather than succumbing to negative Facebook comments by reversing course and attempting to upend a binding commission order.”

O’Laughlin isn’t trying to ban time-of-use pricing, but rather simply require it to be optional for customers.

Evergy withdrew the request to make time-of-use pricing optional but did succeed in making the default pricing plan one more similar to the previous flat-rate pricing rather than the plan that quadruples rates on summer afternoons.

Because of that, O’Laughlin said, the issue isn’t as urgent as it appeared this summer. But she still wants to send the Public Service Commission a message.

“If they made a decision like that once,” she said, “the likelihood that they might try to do that again I would say is fairly high.”

Evergy’s spokeswoman said the company hadn’t seen the bill and could not comment on it.

Grid reliability 

State Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, said a lot of the state’s residents want environmental responsibility, but it’s important to ensure that when Missourians “turn on the switch, they have reliable, safe energy” (fhm/Getty Images).

O’Laughlin is also sponsoring a grid reliability bill she says is a response to the federal government’s efforts to force “death by a thousand cuts” on coal plants.

“I cannot imagine that we want to allow our citizens and our businesses to run out of power basically because of political activism,” she said.

The legislation, she said, is inspired by the impending closure of the Rush Island Energy Center, owned by Ameren Missouri, which serves electric customers in the greater St. Louis area.

Ameren was ordered by a federal court to install pollution controls at Rush Island after being found in violation of the Clean Air Act. Instead, the utility plans to shut the coal plant down.

Last month, Ameren asked the Public Service Commission for permission to use a new financing law known as securitization to recoup its investment at Rush Island and shutter the plant.

Ameren and other utilities belong to regional grid operators. In Ameren’s case, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator that coordinates power production to ensure there’s enough electricity to support the grid. Those organizations impose complicated capacity requirements on utilities, and MISO has raised concerns about the planned closure of Rush Island.

Ameren Missouri’s vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs, Warren Wood, said in a statement that the company would monitor O’Laughlin’s bill as it moves through the legislative process.

“Delivering safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers and the communities we serve is our top priority,” Wood said. “We aim to do that by having a diversified generation portfolio that supports the overall reliability and resiliency of the energy grid.”

State Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, said a lot of the state’s residents want environmental responsibility, but it’s important to ensure that when Missourians “turn on the switch, they have reliable, safe energy.”

“I’m certainly wanting to make sure that I’m doing things that leave the state of Missouri in a better place than I found it,” she said, “but we’ve got to be responsible about that.”

Jenn DeRose, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign representative for Missouri, said the idea behind O’Laughlin’s bill makes sense at first glance, but ensuring reliability is MISO’s job.

She’s not sure the state has the ability to wade into that complicated calculation.

“This bill is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” DeRose said. “It’s just fear mongering.”

TOU and “Demand Response” programs are promoted along with equally (if not more) controversial utility “smart” meters.  Proponents claim that “smart” meters are also beneficial to consumers as well as essential for “energy efficiency” though reports continue to say otherwise (see 1, 2, 3, 4).

Opposition to “smart” meters has been worldwide since they first started being deployed (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  American opposition to all of them – electric, gas, and water – has been increasing for over a decade, even inspiring a documentary film.  Ongoing issues associated with these deplorable devices include

Despite all of the above, utility providers continue to force “smart” meters on consumers (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) so they can remotely control and/or ration utility use (see 1, 2) and collect consumer usage data to sell and/or share with 3rd parties (see 1, 2).  Adding insult to injury, consumers who are permitted to “opt-out” of “smart” meters are often required to pay expensive fees as well as accept meters that aren’t as safe as traditional analog meters.

If you oppose “smart” meters, Children’s Health Defense has made it easy to contact your lawmakers and ask them to support utility meter choice legislation.  Click here to learn more.

Activist Post reports regularly about “smart” meters and other privacy invasive and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Image: Pixabay

Become a Patron!
Or support us at SubscribeStar
Donate cryptocurrency HERE

Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Follow us on Telegram, SoMee, HIVE, Minds, MeWe, Twitter, Gab, and What Really Happened.

Provide, Protect and Profit from what s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.

Activist Post Daily Newsletter

Subscription is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL
Free Report: How To Survive The Job Automation Apocalypse with subscription

Be the first to comment on "State Lawmaker Introduces Legislation to Protect Utility Consumers from Mandated Time-Of-Use (TOU) Energy Plans"

Leave a comment