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Ameren Missouri's Renewable Energy Standard Fraud

Ameren Missouri's Renewable Energy Standard Fraud

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As a public servant working for the citizens of Missouri and beyond, I consider it my duty to disseminate the following information. The general public should be more aware of the unprofessional and corrupt work environment in Missouri’s capital as it relates to the energy sector.

The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) is a state government commission that decides rate cases and renewable energy requirements. In the PSC, there are five Governor-appointed commissioners with a large PSC Staff operating underneath them. In Missouri, investor-owned utilities such as Ameren are regulated by the PSC. 

In 2008, Missouri voters passed the Renewable Energy Standard (RES). The RES currently requires investor-owned utilities to meet 10% of their total retail electric sales with renewable resources. The RES requirement will increase to 15% renewable energy in 2021. Investor-owned utilities, such as Ameren, can comply with the RES by generating their own electricity, purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources, or by purchasing renewable energy certificates, or credits (RECs). 

This past calendar year, Ameren met most of its RES compliance requirement by purchasing RECs, but it has been revealed that many of the RECs Ameren used are likely ineligible for compliance with Missouri’s RES, as outlined in the comments filed by the Sierra Club in PSC case number EO-2020-0328. Ameren and WestRock, a paper and packaging manufacturer, may be committing a multimillion-dollar fraud by procuring artificial RECs from four paper mills located in Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These paper mill facilities have been in operation for decades, since before Missouri’s RES was even enacted. Most of the WestRock RECs were created from energy that was consumed in these southern paper mills but never went out onto the grid. The PSC has indicated they may proceed with allowing all the potentially fraudulent RECs to be used by Ameren for compliance despite the concerns that have been raised. This would not only be against rules and regulations, but it would be a tragic regulatory malfunction that underscores Missouri’s enormous issue of regulatory capture in the energy sector.

In Ameren Missouri’s 2018 Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the company stated that it expected the RECs purchased for compliance with the 2019 RES to cost approximately $2 million. Ameren is using over 3 million RECs for the 2019 RES compliance requirements. This suggests Ameren somehow spent just pennies for each REC, despite the fact that the market value is significantly higher and often exceeds $100 per REC. The information all seems to indicate there is something unethical going on. If the PSC determines Ameren failed to comply with the 2019 RES requirements, Ameren will have to pay a penalty payment of twice the market value of the ineligible RECs. This penalty payment would go to the Missouri Division of Energy, and it is they who would identify appropriate renewable energy projects in which to invest the tens of millions of dollars from Ameren’s penalty payments. 

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