Columbia to Expand Solar Energy Project

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COLUMBIA - Supervisors and project coordinators talked on Thursday about the solar panel project at the Columbia Rail Transit Building.  City Council originally approved this project close to nine months ago.  The construction took place earlier this week and is close to a quarter of the way complete. 

Supervisor Dave Dick said he is in favor of the solar panels and thinks more panels will shine in the midwest.  "The midwest market is a good market to get into.  It's also a good area to develop business," Dick said. 

The project coordinator, Dave Stokes said this is the first city-owned building to install solar panels.  A major factor for the city of Columbia is solar energy is generated locally.  The solar power flows into a grid, then disperses to homes and businesses.  Stokes said, "Close to five percent of energy the Columbia Water and Light sells is renewable."  Stokes would like to get close to 15 percent renewable energy. 

The current project generates 330 kilowats, which is approximately one tenth of a percent of renewable energy.  Stokes said more solar projects will be installed in the land around Cosmo Park, behind the Transit Building, and by Westlake Hardware. 

Stokes said less than one percent of Boone County residents use solar energy.