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City withdraws from Missouri Clean Energy District

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Springfield City Council last night voted to withdraw from a statewide program that provides capital for efficient and renewable energy projects.

The 7-2 vote followed council's tabling of the measure on Aug. 26, when members first cited accountability issues with the Missouri Clean Energy District. The political subdivision provides financing for energy-efficient improvements to residential and commercial customers under the Missouri Property Assessed Clean Energy bill.

Objections to the city's participation in the political subdivision came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Environmental Advisory Board issued an advisory letter to the city and county about issues it has identified. Missouri Clean Energy, according to the Army Corps, has had problems of not filing annual reports with local municipalities, a lack of an economic benefit statement for projects, loan limit issues and mortgage lender concerns, among other issues.

Concerns from council focused on the residential side of the program.

“The concept of this program is very noble and good,” Councilman Richard Ollis said yesterday. “On the residential side, there’s some real problems with accountability.”

However, he joined Councilman Craig Hosmer as the two votes to keep the program in place.

Last night, Hosmer first made a motion to again table the bill, which was struck down with a 6-3 vote.

“It would serve us well to make the right decision instead of a quick decision,” he said. “We have to look at whether or not we can make it work for the city of Springfield rather than reacting to the problem.”

City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader said other commercial clean energy programs, such as Show Me PACE, could be considered in the future.

“If council wanted to enter into an agreement with another energy district, they could do so,” she said.

Councilman Mike Schilling had concerns about consumer protections, administration and fees.

“I’d like to see something going forward, but I’d like to see some improvements made,” he said.

The move by council follows the Greene County Commission withdrawing from the district during week of Aug. 19, according to past reporting.

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