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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

MO Renewable-Energy Experts: Reducing Barriers to Solar Is Key

Installing solar photovoltaic panel system. Solar panel technician installing solar panels on a roof. Alternative energy ecological concept.
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If Gov. Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 745, all residents will be able to put solar panels on their homes.

Groups that advocate for renewables in Missouri are urging Gov. Mike Parson to sign a utility-focused bill that would reduce barriers for businesses and individuals to access solar arrays.

It's been passed by both chambers of the Legislature - and among other measures, it would prevent Homeowners Associations from banning solar panels in their covenants, implement a sales and use tax exemption on solar equipment, and create a task force to commission a "Value of Solar" study.

James Owen, executive director of the group Renew Missouri, said the measures would give consumers and businesses some more energy independence.

"With inflation being the way it is, there is a need to try to reduce your costs somewhere," said Owen. "And utility bills are something everyone pays. So, getting an opportunity to do that, while also being able to have some control over how you get your energy, is very important. "

Owen said in Missouri, the ability to put solar on or near your house is considered a property right. And he noted that utilities currently have a monopoly on energy production in the state.

Sean Brady, senior counsel, and regional policy manager with the Clean Grid Alliance, noted that the sales and use tax exemption is a key point.

"The solar sales tax exemption codifies the state's long-held standing that components to create electricity are exempt from sales tax," said Brady, "much like other manufacturing exemptions."

He added that in addition to the tax exemption, the bill would also put into place a Task Force to consider what local taxes should be for solar energy systems.

Owen noted that solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in Missouri.

"These pieces of legislation are going to make solar more accessible to folks," said Owen. "It's going to make it more cost-effective. And I think that's all things that are important to this administration."

The Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.