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A grassroots environmental group, the Missouri Sierra Club, is asking the Empire District Electric Company, based in Joplin, to adopt a new plan that is more energy efficient. Last week, investors took a vote on the proposed changes at the company’s annual stockholder meeting. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.
Members of the Sierra Club say they’re asking Empire Electric to try harder to save energy. John Hickey is chapter director for the club.
“We’re not saying Empire is doing nothing now; we’re saying Empire’s not doing nearly enough now. With this new law, Empire Electric can invest in energy efficiency measures, can recoup that costs while bringing bills down for customers,” Hickey said.
The Sierra Club submitted a proposal to Empire stockholders, asking them to come up with a solid plan to reduce risk throughout its energy portfolio, and to become even more cost effective.
Hickey says he would like to see Empire Electric start programs like the ones in place at Ameren Electric, like subsidizing the cost of compact florescent light bulbs and appliances, and a refrigerator pick-up service. These programs, he says, are good for the customer's wallet, and they help the environment.
Empire Electric already offers its customers some energy saving options. For example, there are programs for weatherizing low income homes, high efficiency air conditioning, and more.
Amy Bass, director of communications at Empire Electric, says the company also produces 15 percent of its energy from purchases out of wind farms in Kansas.
Some of these were enacted by the company before the state legislature passed the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (MEEIA) in 2009. That law requires investor-owned utilities, like Empire Electric, to invest in and promote all cost-effective measures for energy efficiency. Here’s Amy Bass.
“Quite honestly, we’ve had many of these programs in place long before the MEEIA law was enacted, going back into 2007-2008, we enacted different programs.”
At the annual Empire Electric stockholder meeting, investors voted against the Sierra Club's proposal by an 86 to 14 percent margin. The Missouri Sierra Club plans to submit the resolution again at next year’s meeting.
Hickey said Empire Electric sent out a letter to stockholders prior to the meeting, recommending they vote against the proposal. He shared a copy of that letter with KSMU. In that letter, Empire's CEO Bradley Beecher says that the company is in the process of examining its existing energy portfolio, and is already making ambitious efforts in the area of energy efficiency.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.