At Solar Power Rocks, our dream is to turn your thoughts of solar power for your home into reality
Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.
From the Gateway Arch to Branson, with stops along the way in the Ozarks, Missouri has tons of stuff going on. Don’t forget about the Kansas City Jazz scene either. With all sorts of natural beauty in the state, what better way to take care of Missouri than by using renewable energy? Clean solar power is also a great way to keep the state’s important waterways sparkling too.
It’s been years since Missourians voted to adopt a renewable energy standard, and solar isn’t as booming as it once was, partly due to the sunsetting of rebates and utility company payments to homeowners with solar installations, but there’s still a lot of great reasons to go solar. Keep reading to see what’s happening with solar energy in the Show Me state.
Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Missouri solar incentives you see below.
Your guide to going solar in Missouri
We've designed this page to be a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on a home in Missouri. Since there's a lot of important information to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!
The Solar Strategy section is all about the various financial options you have in Missouri. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions about what you hope to get out of a solar purchase and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we give you a detailed picture of how each could work for you.
The Policy Information section contains all of our latest research on the rules set by the state legislature and public utilities commission that determines how easy it is to go solar in Missouri. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to whether you get paid retail or wholesale rates for the extra energy your system produces, and can have a huge effect on the viability of solar.
Finally, the Solar Incentives section lists all of the available financial benefits available to homeowners who go solar. This section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions. If you're looking for what Missouri is doing to make solar more affordable for its citizens, you'll find it here.
We hope you find our work useful. If so, please help us keep our research and advocacy as strong as possible by sharing it with someone who might also find it interesting, contributing any amount you can, and by getting yourself personalized savings estimates from our trusted partner network.
Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.
|Your Missouri Solar Strategy|
|Comparing Solar Investment Options|
|Solar PPAs in Missouri|
|Solar Loans in Missouri|
|Buying Solar in Missouri|
|Solar Purchase Payback Time in Missouri|
|Missouri Solar Policy Information|
|Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)|
|RPS Solar Carve-Out|
Your Solar Strategy in Missouri
Figuring out the best way to go solar in Missouri can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.
We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:
Compare the Return of Different Solar Investments in Missouri
The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA). As you can see, the purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit (HELOC—the orange bars) and paying for the system over time means you'll actually spend less of your own money over time, while reaping a big financial benefit in year 1.
That's because you take a loan for the system, but you still get a 30% federal tax credit based on the entire cost. You'll start out ahead, so your payments over 15 years will have less impact on you than plunking down a big pile of money up front. All you need is equity or great credit.
Lastly, take a look at the blue bars. They represent a solar Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is also called third-party ownership. With a PPA, you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and make monthly payments that are little bit less than what you had been paying the utility company or their dirty energy. You still accumulate savings, because the PPA cost will rise by less than the electric company's annual rate hikes. Third-party ownership is an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and it still saves you money!
Read more below about each of three good options for solar in Missouri.
Net Present Value of Solar in Missouri
“Net Present What?!” Don’t panic, this isn’t an economics test. NPV is just a tool used to compare investments. Basically, it asks, “if you had X dollars to invest, which investment would get you the best return?” It relies on the idea that getting a return on your investment sooner is better than later, because you can reinvest your early profits and keep the gain train going.
We compare an investment in solar to a “what-if” investment in a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 stock index fund, which has seen growth of about 7% per year over the past 25 years. We use the cost of solar in Missouri and ask “how much better or worse (in 2017 dollars) is an investment in solar than stocks?” Here's what we found for the three different ways of going solar in Missouri:
Solar Power-Purchase Agreements in Missouri
A PPA is a great way to go solar if you haven't got stacks of cash or oodles of equity in your home. With thrid-party solar like this, it's possible to get solar panels for $0-down and see big savings over 20 years!
As for PPAs in Missouri: the electricity costs here a little below the national average. That means a PPA doesn't save you much right away, but it will save you about $94 this year, so you're able to save the planet and make a little cash doing it!
Now that might not sound like a huge amount of money right now, but as the utility company raises rates, you will start to see greater annual savings. Over 20 years, our estimate shows a total savings of $3,138. The panels will be installed and maintained by professionals, and all you have to do is brag to the Joneses down the street about your green habits!
Here's more about how a solar PPA works:
Example savings in Missouri
Annual Electric Bill Before Solar
Annual Electric Bill After Solar
Est. Annual Solar Payments
Average Annual Savings
Annual Electric Bill Before Solar
Annual Electric Bill After Solar
Est. Annual Solar Payments
Average Annual Savings
Power-Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are the most popular form of what's called "third-party solar." A PPA just means your solar company owns the panels on your roof, and you pay for the electricity they produce. The numbers above show the savings with a solar PPA for an average home in Missouri. The typical electric bill before solar power is super expensive, but with a PPA, your monthly expenses will be lower. You'll be saving money and saving the planet all at the same time!
Here's an estimate of the monthly savings for a solar PPA in Missouri:
With a PPA, your solar company essentially becomes a second utility provider, only the solar electricity is sold to you at a lower rate than the fossil fuel electricity you've been buying from the electric company! Note: your PPA won't eliminate your power bill from your regular electric provider, because you'll still need energy from the grid when the sun isn't shining. But it will save you money!
The less-popular cousin of the third-party solar family is the solar lease. It's basically like renting your panels for a set monthly payment, and getting all the energy they produce—however much it is. Don't get spooked by that language, though. A typical solar lease comes with energy production guarantees that will make sure you're getting what you paid for. In fact, if you're not offered a production guarantee with a solar lease, walk away.
Here's the best part of third-party solar: whether you end up with a lease or a PPA, the installation company owns the panels and will do all the maintenance for you. Usually that means just a good cleaning every year, but if any part of that system fails, you're off the hook! That can be a great benefit to homeowners who are risk averse.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar lease or PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.
Home Solar Power: PPA vs. Purchasing
To PPA, or not to PPA? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.
In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!
Additionally, if you go the PPA route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar PPA company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place).
Solar Loans in Missouri
You don't need $20,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.
That’s because, in Missouri, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break. That's right: a HUGE tax break!. You'll come out thousands ahead this year, and you'll still see a handsome profit over the 25-year life of your system.
A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:
- You can get a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $20,000, with a fixed rate of 4% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
- You love making money without much risk.
Here’s how the numbers pencil out for an Missouri homeowner who makes a solar purchase with a loan:
- Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $20,000. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
- The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $624, but your annual loan payments will be $1,775, meaning you would spend $1,151 on solar this year, but...
- You'll also see a huge tax break! The Feds give you 30% of the cost of your system back as an income tax credit, which in this case means $6,000. You'll be paying over time but getting the benefits up front!
- All those incentives mean you'll come out $4,845 ahead after year 1. Your loan payments will be about $96/month more than your energy bill savings, but that difference will get smaller as the utility company raises rates every year.
- By the time you've paid off your loan in 2031, you'll see yearly savings of over $1,000. After 25 years, your total profit will be $1,463!
- On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too—104 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.
Buying Solar in Missouri
An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true, but based on percent return for the money, a loan is a better option.
If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $20,000, but tax breaks and energy savings will erase a bunch of that after just 1 year. Over 25 years, your system will have produced more than $8,000 in income, after your system cost is paid back. The reason this works is that solar offsets your electricity costs—enough to save you about $624 in year 1, and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...
Here’s how the numbers work for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Missouri:
- Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $20,000. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
- The Federal government offers a great tax credit worth 30% of system costs. So take 30% of $20,000, and you've got a tax credit of $6,000. That brings your first-year investment down to $14,000.
- After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $624. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $13,376.
- Those electricity savings will quickly make your money back, and your system will pay for itself in 18 years. You'll see a total net profit of $8,092 before the end of your panels' 25-year warranty. The internal rate of return for this investment is not too shabby at 3.7%, but it likely isn't as good as if you just put the money into a mutual fund.
- And here's a nice bonus to consider: your home's value just increased by more than $18,000, too (your expected electricity savings over 20 years).
- In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 104 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Missouri. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.
Missouri Solar Policy Information
Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.
State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida—are doing so poorly.
Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Missouri:
15% by 2021
A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) is a law that basically says a certain percentage of a state’s energy production must come from renewable sources by a target date. Many states have passed such standards, with goals as high as 30%, even 40% renewable production in the not-so-distant future.
Missouri has an adequate but not spectacular RPS, mandating 15% renewable energy by 2021. The renewable energy target will be phased in via intermediate goals slowly over time, until arriving at the 15% total by the end of 2021.
Missouri’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If they don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.
What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.
An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner. Read more about Renewable Portfolio Standards.
RPS solar carve out
.3% by 2021
A solar carve out means that, of the total amount of energy that must come from renewable power, a certain percentage must come from solar panels. Missouri has a solar carve out, albeit a tiny one, of 2% of the RPS (which means only 0.3% of all electricity generated in the state. That’s not very high, and it doesn’t set the bar very high for electric utilities, giving them little incentive to help homeowners install solar panels. Considering the original RPS in Missouri was brought into being by the voters in 2008 through Proposition C, it may be time to push for a new ballot initiative, something that didn’t happen back in 2012.
What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.
Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.
For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!
Missouri Electricity Prices
Missourians pay an average of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (“kWh”) of electricity; just about 3 cents cheaper than the national average. Cheap, but not as cheap is it used to be. Higher electricity prices mean you’re probably already feeling a little strain in your pocketbook. Just don’t forget why electricity is so cheap.
That’s right, fossil fuels. Lots and lots of fossil fuels. Whatever your opinion of the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, one thing is certain: the financial cost of using them is only going up, up, up for the future. When that happens you’re going to be really happy you switched early to all that efficient, clean solar power that will be in high demand.
In the meantime, solar power will still save you a chunk of change here. We’ll go over just how much in a minute.
Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.
The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.
Missouri Net Metering
Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.
Missouri requires all utilities to offer net metering to customers with solar power systems up to 100kW. Net excess generation is credited to your next bill at a minimum of the utility’s avoided cost rate.
Now, "avoided cost rate" is short for "how much it would have cost us to burn more coal and make electricity at one of our plants," and as you may guess, it's pretty cheap. Like, you pay $.12/kWh for electricity from them, but they'll only pay you $.03/kWh for excess that yo send back to the grid. That's why it's imperative that you size your system so you don't produce more electricity than you use. Talk to an installer near you to determine the best system size for your home.
We’d like to see the law amended to ensure that you get credit for your net excess generation, even if you run a surplus every month. And right now, all credit not used after 12 months reverts back to the utility without compensation. We think the utility should cut you a check for all that surplus instead.
What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.
The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.
Missouri Interconnection Rules
Interconnection in Missouri falls into the same solid but not spectacular range. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting on the grid due to circuit capacity limits – the most important first step. Also of note, all systems under 10kW (e.g., almost all residential systems) are exempt from any additional insurance requirements. Unfortunately you may still be required, at the utility’s discretion, to install a redundant external disconnect switch. We’d also like to see the 100kW system size limitation removed to allow commercial and industrial customers meet all on-site generation needs, but that doesn’t affect you and your residential system at all.
Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.
Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.
Solar Incentives in Missouri
Missouri Solar Power Rebates
Missouri has no statewide rebate program for solar installations, but a few of the state's electric utility companies offer rebates for their customers. Here's what's available for homeowners in Missouri:
|Columbia Water & Light||$500/kW, up to $5,000||Must meet warranty and certification requirements.|
|Empire District Electric||$500/kW in 2016-2018||Must meet warranty and siting requirements|
|Kansas City Power & Light||$500/kW in 2016-2018||Must meet warranty and certification requirements; funds nearly exhausted|
How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.
The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.
Missouri Solar Power Tax Credits
Missouri does not offer any tax credits for solar power. Overall the statewide picture is pretty weak so far as solar incentives go. A tax credit would be an easy way to make solar cheaper for you without actually removing any money from the state’s coffers.
However, you can still take advantage of the 30% federal solar tax credit (more on that in the 5kw example below).
About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.
(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)
The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.
Solar Power Performance Payments
A solar power performance payment is essentially a bonus paid to homeowners with solar panels connected to the grid at a rate slightly above the going rate for electricity. Ameren used to offer such a program, through which it purchased the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) that homeowners accrued based on their system’s performance. Sadly, that program has ended, and now Missouri has no performance payment agreement. The good news is your system’s performance still gets you SRECs, which you can sell if and when there is a better economic climate for them.
Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!
Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.
Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.
If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video
Property Tax Exemption
A solar panel installation on your home adds value to it. We’re talking thousands of dollars of value, based on all that electricity you won’t be paying for in the next few decades. Luckily, Missouri realizes that a good way to encourage homeowners to go solar is to exempt all that additional value from property taxes. That’s right, you will not pay a dime in taxes on all that added value!
About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).
For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!
The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.
Sales Tax Exemption
Unfortunately, Missouri is not up to par on the other side of the tax-burden coin. One of the simplest ways for the Missouri state legislature to encourage small scale clean energy adoption is to declare solar panel equipment exempt from state sales taxes as many other progressive states have done. Sadly, there is no such declaration and will have to pay sales tax on the installation of solar panels for your home.
What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).
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The consensus on Missouri solar power rebates and incentives
If you’re lucky enough to cash in on one of those big utility-backed solar power rebates, Missouri offers an excellent (i.e., low) cost after year 1 and a solid overall payback timeframe. That would have been enough to earn a “B” from us in some cases, but the gaps in rebate availability and low marks in many policy areas drag down the overall score. Until the majority of the state’s utilities offer rebates and some of those policy holes are filled, we rate Missouri a “C.”