In order to build a more responsible and successful future, job creators in Missouri want to expand their choices in buying clean and cheap power. Across the country, companies are buying renewable power to meet their strategic goals and provide their customers with the best products and services.

Our biggest employers want to bring that same opportunity to Missouri and create more competitive and sustainable businesses. Today, that’s limited by out-of-date Missouri laws. With a simple change to enable energy choice, we can keep Missouri a great state to do businesses.

Right now, we must buy power from our utility companies, local municipalities or electric cooperatives. While that’s helped our state maintain a reliable, low cost supply of power, it’s no longer keeping up with big changes we’re seeing around the country. In many states, customers have more choice in where they buy their power and what sources of power they buy from. We don’t have that opportunity in Missouri, and it’s leaving investment on the sidelines.

Consider the great investment we’re losing out on in Sugar Creek. For well over a year, Sugar Creek has been working on a project that would turn the old grounds of the BP refinery into a sophisticated new solar farm. When it closed in 1982, that economic engine began an intense environmental reclamation operation. It’s been tricky to redevelop the site, but there’s new opportunity here to take that land and make it productive again.

We have a great partner in Algonquin Power, the financing to get this project off the ground and community buy-in to transform this old industrial site into a new power plant. This would bring much needed jobs to our area to build, install and operate a sophisticated new facility and provide Missouri businesses and communities with the inexpensive clean power they want.

The demand is there. Some of our state’s biggest employers, including Cargill, General Mills, Unilever and Walmart, want access to low-cost renewable power. Missouri provides an excellent workforce, a strong local economy, and a quality investment climate. But we don’t provide our businesses with the kinds of choices they need to adapt more sustainable practices.

Let’s provide businesses the market freedom to boost their bottom line and our environment. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation (HB 1726) to allow businesses to buy power from new renewable energy providers that will build and operate facilities here at home. Through a structure called Power Purchase Agreements, businesses can go directly to the source and lock in lower, more competitive rates for the renewable power needed to satisfy their strategic goals.

As a small business owner, I know full well the challenges our economy faces when government fails to move at the speed of business. We want businesses to grow, innovate and create jobs for Missourians. One easy fix is to allow more flexibility for our companies and communities to access the energy solutions they seek.

Bill E. Kidd represents District 20 in the Missouri House of Representatives, which covers Sugar Creek, parts of eastern Independence and Buckner, generally east of Sterling Avenue and north of U.S. 24.