Special session to address utility rates, aim for Bootheel steel mill

Gov. Eric Greitens spent part of the weekend at rallies in southeast Missouri, drumming up support for a measure he says would bring hundreds of jobs to that part of the state. Missouri lawmakers will meet for a special session Monday afternoon in Jefferson City to address a bill that would alter utilities regulation in an effort to attract a steel mill to the state’s Bootheel region.

One part of the bill, according to Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, would incentivize a steel plant to come to southeast Missouri with a subsidized rate for electricity that all other Ameren Missouri customers would help pay for. The other part, Barnes said, would reduce scrutiny of rate decisions by the state’s Public Service Commission.

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, was added as an amendment to another bill late in the Missouri Legislature’s regular session, which ended earlier this month. It passed the House but failed to gain Senate approval.

Utility rates for industrial customers have been an issue in southeast Missouri since Noranda Aluminum closed a smelter in that part of the state, resulting in the loss of 900 jobs.

Read more: Jefferson City News-Tribune, Southeast Missourian

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