Water and Light Advisory Board Releases Annual Renewable Energy Report

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Water and Light Advisory Board released its Annual Renewable Energy Report for the 2014 calendar year Wednesday morning.

Highlighting the report is that 7.22 percent of all energy sources for 2014 were renewable sources, exceeding the goal of 5 percent. This amount was higher than the 6.9 percent reported in 2013. Water and Light officials said the increase in the amount of renewable energy was due to having for the first full year three generators running at the landfill.

Each generator at the landfill produces 1059 kilowatts of electricity a year, enough to power 2250 houses. This year 3.37 percent came from landfill gas, with 3.27 percent coming from wind turbines in Northern Missouri and the final one percent coming from solar energy and bio mass.

While solar energy levels may be small now, Water and Light officials believe it has room to grow.

"We've seen a lot of growth in solar," said Connie Kacprowicz, Water and Light Spokesperson. "The cost of solar has gone down quite a bit. We're expanding our West Ash pump station site and we've seen a lot of customers involved in putting on solar systems in their own houses."

Though the 7.2 percent may seem respectable, the city has a long way to go to reach upcoming renewable energy standards. By 2018 15 percent of all electricity purchased or generated by the city has to come from renewable energy sources, and by 2028, 30 percent of all energy used or purchased has to be renewable.

Another important part of report was the city spent did not cause electric rates to increase ore than 3 percent above what rates would be with non-renewable energy and used 34.2 percent of what was allowed in additional money spent.

In other terms, the city was able to produce all of this energy using renewable sources but was able to do this at one-third the cost at what the law would allowed them to charge. However, Kacprowicz believes this cap could become an issue in future years.

"I think for the citizens Columbia it's great that we've been able to find some cost-effective renewable resources," she said. "Moving forward as we have more and more of our energy coming from renewable resources those costs might come into play."

After this meeting, Kacprowicz said the Renewable Energy Report will be discussed at a few other committees then will be read and discussed at a public hearing and before being approved at a future City Council meeting.