Conference serves as hub for advancing renewable energy

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COLUMBIA - Wind, water and solar power are all elements that usually come to mind when the words 'renewable energy' come up. Conversation surrounding renewable energy flourished through discussions held at the 10th annual Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference. It kicked off on Monday just two days after Earth Day. 

The two day conference was co-hosted by Columbia Water and Light, the University of Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Economic Development-Division of Energy. 

"The whole point is exactly the name of the conference, advancing renewables of the Midwest. Things have improved in the 12 years, but we still have a long way to go," representative of Columbia Water and Light Jane Hinds said.  

Fourteen speakers from across the nation presented renewable energy programs, policies and projects to attendees. They discussed topics such as economics of new energy sources, Missouri's efforts in renewable energy, financing projects, legislation and energy efficiency. 

The hosts of the conference, as well as Renew Missouri, a non-profit aimed to advance efficiency and renewable energy, formed a committee to select speakers for the 2017 conference.     

"Between all of us we just really brainstorm on what we’ve read about, what we’ve heard about, what speakers we’ve seen at other conferences, people we know," Hinds said. "It takes a lot of reading and staying up on what’s new and what’s exciting, because after 12 years we’ve talked about a lot. So, always looking for the new idea." 

The MU Conference Office, who helped with the logistics of the conference, said there were about 200 utilities professionals and community members present on the first day. 

Caleb Arthur is the CEO of Sun Solar, the largest residential solar company in the state. He said he got involved with the conference a few years ago and has come back since then.

"What’s exciting about this is we bring the decision makers together," Arthur said. "We bring all of the top utility companies in the state together. We bring solar companies like myself that can provide these services, and then we also bring the consumers. It’s not just one side talking about how they get something done. It’s bringing all three sides together and saying how do we get these things done.

The conference continues on Tuesday, April 25.