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Utility supports energy efficiency bill, and Nixon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 10, 2009 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will be joined by a rare bipartisan crowd of allies on Monday when he holds news conferences in Kansas City and St. Joseph to ceremonially sign the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act.

The Act will allow electric companies to charge their customers a fee to help finance programs to encourage energy efficiency, such as offering free programmable thermostats or providing inducements to companies who cut back on electricity during peak times.

State officials say the added fee, presumably imposed on all or most electricity users in Missouri, will save money in the long run because a lower demand for power will mean that utility companies won't have to spend as much money on new plants or to purchase power from other utilities.

The bill had been backed by utilities, businesses and some environmental groups. Its chief sponsor was state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville. Nixon and GOP legislative leaders had praised the bill during the session.

Those in attendance are scheduled to include representatives of Kansas City Power & Light, which coincidentally gave a $10,000 campaign donation to the governor earlier this month at a Kansas City fundraiser.

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission's Web site, the donation was among three $10,000 contributions that the governor received on July 6, presumably at the same Kansas City event. The other donors included the Kansas City engineering firm of Burns & McDonnell, which has done business with the utility, and Donald Dalton of Wright City.

Earlier this year, the utility gave $25,000 to Nixon, a Democrat, and $5,000 to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.