Committee Promotes Electric Bond Issue

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Works held a meeting Friday to discuss Proposition 2- an electric bond issue. The bond would allow the city to purchase Columbia Energy Center from Ameren U.E. Currently Columbia owns 25 percent of the facility. It would need to purchase the remaining 75 percent. The City argues that purchasing the facility would save Columbia money because the bond payment and operating costs would be less that what it spends on the lease.

"This could be a really good financial opportunity for the water and light department to convert the ownership,"Tad Johnsen, Director of Columbia Water and Light said.

Johnsen said the purchase would not increase electric rates. Mayor McDavid was also in attendance- he said purchasing the facility is an important move in diversifying Columbia's energy portfolio in that it would serve as a back-up for renewable energy sources.

Ameren brought the issue to Columbia Water and Light's attention as energy prices are low. Ameren saw the facility as an asset it could liquefy.

"When we sat down with [Ameren] at the table and started negotiating how we could get this done and all the numbers behind it, that's when this really came to light," Johnsen said.

The bond issue will be voted on in April. If it passes, Columbia Water and Light would own the facility officially May 31, 2011.