Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Next Big Thing

The investor owned utilities have begun to talk to legislators about their legislative agenda for this session.  It looks like it will include landmark legislation which would potentially change the way in which they’re regulated.

The draft is still being finalized, but the current proposal being floated would allow the investor owned utilities (Ameren, KC Power, and Empire District Electric) to opt out of their current regulatory framework and enter into a new one.   The Public Service Commission would still regulate them, and they would be subject to annual rate reviews putting more transparency into the process. Their return on equity would be fixed, but lower than it currently is.  And consumers’ rate increases would be capped.

The benefits to the utilities would be more predictable revenues, a substantial decrease in “regulatory uncertainty,” and a reduction in the “regulatory lag” of the current framework.

As part of the deal Noranda would receive a rate cut to help their ailing business.

It seems that there’s good support for the idea in both chambers.  Some are anxious to help Noranda; others see the utilities investing more heavily in upgrading the grid once they have the predictable revenues provided by this new framework.

And

Empire District Electric is being bought out.  See it here.

Pull Quote: Empire District Electric (NYSE:EDE) jumped more than 16% by 11:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Sparking the rally was the announcement that the company was being acquired by Canadian-based Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX:AQN)… That purchase price represents a 21% premium to the company's closing price on Monday and is 50% above its closing price in early December, which was before the company announced that its Board of Directors was in the early stages of exploring strategic alternatives. In other words, this merger agreement is outcome of that process.

 

MO Promise, No Fine

The Missouri Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against the Missouri Promise Initiative ruling that despite their expenditures on attorneys, research, web site and social media they weren’t required to report because they never filed an initiative petition.  See it here.

 

Rumorville: More AMEC $$$ Coming

Earlier this week I reported on a $1 million dollar check from the Association of Missouri Electrical Cooperatives into a campaign committee to influence upcoming initiatives concerning renewable energy law.

Word is that there will be more money coming from AMEC into that committee, Consumers for Energy Fairness.

There have been dozens of variations of initiatives filed by Brightery’s Missourians for Renewable Energy and Renew Missouri’s Access Clean Energy.  The expectation is that those two groups will settle on one consensus initiative petition.  AMEC will likely oppose it, and will put forward their own proposal.

Welcome to the Renewables War.

 

Gosen Bill Stalls

It’s rare that you see one of the “select” chairperson’s bills get defeated in one of the lower committees.  That’s what happened yesterday to Rep. Don Gosen’s HB 1592.

Gosen chairs the “Select Committee on Insurance,” to which reports the Health Insurance Committee.  Yet, his bill concerning high-deductible plans failed a Do Pass motion 5-6.  It was a victory for hospitals, doctors and the provider community.

Insurance companies usually find a favorable reception in the “insurance committees,” while providers enjoy the same “home court advantage” in the Health and Mental Health Committee – chaired by Rep. Keith Frederick, a doctor himself.

 

New Greitens Hit

On Youtube there’s an eight-minute video slamming Eric Greitens for using his Navy SEAL past in a promotional way. See it here.

It’s posted by “Operation Vigilant Resolve 5326.”  I assume we’ll never find out who actually paid for the very professionally produced video, but fingers will point at his gubernatorial opponents.

 

Old Brunner Hit

Last weekend the Post-Dispatch reported on John Brunner’s support for some fringe politicians… in 1972.  See it here.

One observer finds it intriguing that this deep deep opposition research (we’re talking time-consuming microfiche-type research here, not Goggling to page 30) is emerging now.  And didn’t in his US Senate campaign.

That leads to the conspiracy theory that perhaps it was Democrats who had uncovered this nugget when preparing for a possible Brunner-McCaskill match-up.  It would have then been shelved when Todd Akin won the primary.

Or maybe someone’s doing a more extensive opposition research work on Brunner than they did in his last race, and it was newly unearthed.

 

Cyber Warfare

From Politico’s Morning Tech comes this reminder about guerilla warfare in social media… If you thought you were following the anti-Charter merger coalition Stop Mega Cable on Twitter, you might be wrong. Before the coalition could scoop up @stopmegacable, Charter did, the company confirmed to MT. In a little-noticed move, it’s been tweeting links for the last week that support the merger or criticize coalition members including DISH. “Using @stopmegacable was meant in jest. We thought that pointing out that a ‘coalition’ that hadn’t even secured a Twitter handle would be the best evidence that it is little more than a shill for the business interests of DISH Network,” Charter said in a statement. It’s an interesting illustration of how political advocacy works these days. But the coalition (which is tweeting from @stopmegacables — note the ‘s’) isn’t amused...

 

Mayfield in the Building

Former Rep. John Mayfield was in the building yesterday.  He’s now the community liaison specialist for the City of Independence.

 

Former Congressional Candidate Starts Real Estate App

Tommy Sower – who ran a few cycles ago against Jo Ann Emerson – sent an email blast, apparently to his old list of supporters, touting his new venture, SoloPro

From: Tommy Sowers

Subject: ¡Viva la revolucion! (and our Super Bowl commercial)

Hello from the front lines of a revolution.  Two years ago, I stood outside of my then future, now current home, wanting to get inside but not wanting to pay an agent a massive commission to do so.  Over the past two years, with my real estate agent cousin Shayne and technical guru Ajay, we built, launched, and funded the solution to that problem -- SoloPro the first pro-consumer, pro-agent real estate marketplace.  SoloPro is on demand (been called Uber for real estate), no commission real estate. We've saved home buyers thousands and now have over 800 agents in 36 states…. Go ahead.  Click on the commercial.  Then please share.  It feels good to literally explode real estate commissions. ¡Viva la revolucion!

Onwards,

Tommy

Tommy Sowers | Founder and CEO, SoloPro - Real Estate Revolution

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Quintin Hull, Shannon Cooper and Nancy Giddens added Steven R. Carroll & Associates.

Aaron Montano added Alliancebernstein.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Hawley for Missouri - $5,800 from Jerry Sumners.

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from Leehar Distributors Inc.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to former Reps. Don Wells and Steve Brown.