Summary of the Interim Report of
The Joint Interim Committee on Telecommunications and Energy
Senator Chuck Gross, Co-Chair
Representative Carol Jean Mays, Co-Chair

The public has voiced widespread concern over the restructuring of retail electric markets, volatility in prices for transportation fuels and natural gas, availability of energy supplies, and reliability of energy and telecommunication services. The following major issues have emerged from testimony received by the committee to date:

General Energy Policy: The Missouri Energy Policy Task Force recommended that the Governor should have a standing energy policy advisory council available during energy crises.

Restructuring of Electric Markets: Many witnesses described successes and failures in states that had attempted to restructure their retail electric markets. Witnesses also recommended numerous safeguards to ensure reasonable rates, reliability, safety, and clear benefits for all consumers if restructuring is attempted.

Natural Gas Pricing and Impacts on Low-Income Customers: The Missouri Public Service Commission's Natural Gas Commodity Task Force and other witnesses discussed last winter's crisis in natural gas prices. They also recommended numerous strategies to reduce gas costs, dampen price volatility, and provide more assistance for low-income residents.

Energy Efficiency: Several witnesses described cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, and recommended incentives for increasing efficiency in the public and private sectors.

Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources: Several witnesses discussed the benefits of alternative and renewable energy sources, and recommended incentives to aid the development and use of alternative and renewable fuels.

Mobile Telecommunication Sourcing and Taxation: Witnesses from the telecommunications industry discussed the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act and taxation of mobile telecommunication calls, and recommended changes in state law in response to the federal act.

Competition for Local Telephone Service: The Missouri Public Service Commission is now examining the state of competition for local telephone service in the state, but no conclusions have yet been reached.

The committee recognizes the complexity of these issues and believes that many warrant further analysis. The committee will continue to receive testimony and study these issues throughout the remaining period of its charge, and will submit its final recommendations, including any recommendations for legislative action, prior to the commencement of the First Regular Session of the Ninety-second General Assembly.

Terry Finger, Senior Legislative Analyst