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Midwest Energy Policy Series 2023


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On Thursday, December 7th, at Polsinelli in St. Louis, MO, Missouri Energy Initiative presented The Midwest Energy Policy Series (MEPS) on Economic Development.

MEPS is the premiere conference for energy professionals in Missouri and the Midwest. Attendees joined energy professionals and subject matter experts as they networked and learned from industry leaders about emerging trends, policies, and technologies.


See below for a full recap of the Economic Development presentations and keep an eye out for the 2024 sessions!


Session themes from the 2023 MEPS Economic Development Conference

Session 1: Energy in Missouri

Emily Wilbur
Director, Division of Energy
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Missouri's energy landscape is swiftly transforming with a substantial 2,100 MW wind capacity, anchored by Ameren's 400 MW High Prairie Renewable Energy Center and cooperative agreements with eight farms, securing 1,240 MW. Solar power, contributing 7% in 2022, is primarily from small-scale systems, while municipal utility systems collectively lead to utility-scale solar capacity. Ameren's Huck Finn Solar project, set for 2024, adds 200 MW. Both Ameren and Evergy target net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. Expansion plans are robust, with Ameren eyeing 2,800 MW of wind and solar by 2030, paralleled by Evergy's 600 MW contribution. Regulatory approvals and the Grain Belt Express project signify pivotal advancements, reinforcing Missouri's commitment to a sustainable, greener future and its prominent position in biodiesel production.

Session 2: Inflation Reduction Act

Tracy Wilfong
Division of Energy
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Federal investments, exemplified by programs like Business-Industry Loan (BIL) and Industrial Revenue Assistance (IRA), underscore a substantial financial commitment to energy efficiency. In Missouri, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) and the Department of Economic Development (DE) prioritize workforce development. MoDNR addresses the urgent need for a skilled labor force by initiating strategic upskilling and reskilling programs, aligning with STEM education, and fostering an Energy Career Cluster. These efforts aim to equip individuals with essential skills for the dynamic energy sector, contributing to economic growth. DE collaborates across state agencies, implementing initiatives from upskilling the existing workforce to innovative apprenticeships, ensuring a specialized workforce meets the evolving demands of the energy efficiency sector.

Session 3: Energy Solutions for Rural Missouri

BJ Tanksley, Missouri Department of Economic Development
Nathan Tutt, USDA

Missouri's broadband initiatives, backed by ARPA and the Cell Towers Grant, have seen significant progress, connecting 54,000 users and funding projects with a total value of $386 million. The Statewide Digital Opportunity Plan, managed by the Office of Broadband Development, addresses digital equity and implementation strategies. The IIJA BEAD Funding of $1.7 billion aims to bridge connectivity gaps, particularly in unserved and underserved areas. Challenges remain with 177,772 unserved locations requiring an estimated $1.43 billion. Missouri's BEAD allocation of $1.74 billion presents an opportunity to address these gaps and enhance internet access for economic growth. The 2022 REAP | IRA allocates an additional $2.02 billion to the Rural Energy for America Program, supporting over 45,000 farms and small businesses in various renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Session 4: Workforce Development in MO Energy Sector

Megan Price, Missouri Works Initiative
Donna Brake, Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development
Mary English
, Metropolitan Energy Center
Nicole Fondren, Spire

The construction workforce grapples with a lack of diversity, with only 10% women, 6.5% African Americans, and an average worker age of 42. A multi-faceted approach is proposed to tackle this issue, including an industry-recognized entry point to union trades and a Jobs Training Program for 2024 and Beyond, focusing on new codes and specialized roles like energy efficiency experts. The Justice40 Initiative aims to recruit from marginalized communities. A robust Job Pipeline involves apprenticeship programs, employer recruitment, engagement with municipalities, and community sessions. Embedding data on student counts, job prospects, and impact on building codes is crucial. Incentives like low-cost equipment rentals support certified professionals' entry. Oversight is jointly managed by MEC and MEEA.

Session 5: The Potential of Nuclear Energy in the Midwest

Alex Antal, Missouri Public Service Commission

Billy Valderrama, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy

Marc Nicol, Nuclear Energy Institute

The Callaway Energy Center, launched in the 1970s, faced setbacks due to a Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) ban. In 2013, "PANDORA'S PROMISE" explored nuclear energy's past and future. Recent US nuclear ventures, like Plant Vogtle and V.C. Summer, encountered financial woes. Integrated Resource Plans reveal caution about advanced nuclear tech. Repurposing retired coal plants for reactors shows promise, benefiting local economies. Collaborative policymaking is crucial for nuclear development, with a focus on cost-effective and emission-cutting solutions.

Session 6: Economic Development Incentives

Rob Dixon, Ameren Missouri

Dennis Pruitt, Missouri Partnership

Ensuring a harmonious relationship between energy and economic development is crucial. Rising demands for reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy drive investment decisions. Infrastructure development speed and supply chain efficiency play key roles. Balancing load growth from electrification and project expansions requires systematic planning. The aim is to enhance Missouri's global competitiveness.


Ameren Missouri aligns with national trends, unveiling 66 projects from 2021 to 2023, with a $2.5 billion capital investment and 7,266 new jobs. Project scale has notably increased, driven by manufacturing and data centers. Nationwide data center expansion contributes to load growth. Key manufacturing sectors like automotive and aerospace, alongside renewable component manufacturing, express significant interest. MoPSC's approval of Ameren Missouri's Renewable Solutions Program underscores a strong commitment to renewable energy initiatives.

Session 7: Missouri’s Energy Future

Scott Weitzel, Spire

Health Knakmuhs, US Chamber of Commerce

John Twitty, Missouri Public Utility Alliance

Missouri is steering its energy future towards sustainability and reliability through a diversified approach. Balancing renewables like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power with traditional sources ensures long-term energy security. While emphasizing clean energy to reduce emissions, the state recognizes the stability contributions of natural gas and nuclear power during peak demand and adverse conditions. Investing in energy efficiency, smart grids, and cutting-edge technologies enhances overall efficiency and decreases environmental impact. This multifaceted strategy aims to meet rising energy demands sustainably, aligning with Missouri's commitment to a reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally conscious energy future for present and future generations.

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