renewable energy

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth.

But here's a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

Updated 10/1/2014 to add comments.

Missouri is making headway toward developing a Comprehensive State Energy Plan Wednesday with the inaugural public meeting in St. Louis of the plan's steering committee.

Also on Wednesday, the state's largest electric energy provider, Ameren, released its energy plan for the next two decades.

It actually takes quite a lot of fossil fuel power to reach the tiny Spanish island of El Hierro. You have to catch a commercial jet flight, a propeller plane and then a ferry to reach what was once the end of the known world, before Columbus set sail.

But once you're there, there's no need for fossil fuels at all. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.

machinecodeblue via Flickr

The Obama Administration unveiled new proposed rules for power plants on Monday, but Columbia’s two power plants won’t be drastically affected.

Columbia Water and Light is mandated to purchase at least 5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources because of an ordinance passed by the Columbia City Council and the city’s coal plant only operates part of the year.

However, the city does currently get its power from a coal burning power plant from Sikeston, Missouri.

jay nixon
File Photo / KBIA

  Gov. Jay Nixon announced the launch of a statewide comprehensive energy plan at the Advancing Renewables conference at the University of Missouri on Tuesday, April 8.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Division of Energy will lead the initiative to develop the energy plan.

The governor said public meetings will be held across the state to seek input from energy stakeholders, including renewable energy companies, researchers and environmental advocates.

Sam Lin / KBIA

The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to increase the city’s renewable energy mandate. By 2018, Columbia Water and Light will now need to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources – up from 10 percent as spelled out in the renewable energy mandate passed by Columbia voters in 2004. The future goals were also increased to 25 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2029. The previous goal for 2023 was 15 percent and there was no goal set for 2029.

First Ward Councilmember Fred Schmidt was one of the councilmembers that voted to pass the change 5-2.

“The energy future and the environmental future calls for this – for doing something and I believe this is the right step. We don’t know what the future is going to hold, so we shoot for a multiplicity of sources,” Schmidt said.

KOMUNews / Flickr

Columbia Water and Light Advisory board members approved a trial burn of a new renewable energy source for the city on Wednesday morning.

Energy farm
USDA

An environmental group is heading to court in another attempt to change the way Missouri officials have implemented a 2008 ballot initiative about renewable energy.

The initiative requires investor-owned utilities to tap renewable energy sources for at least 5 percent of their electricity by 2014, with that amount gradually rising to 15 percent by 2021.

Columbia’s Environment and Energy Commission is asking the city to increase the percentage of power generated from renewable sources by two percent every year. The goal is to reach 100 percent by the middle of the century.

In 2012, 7.94 percent of electricity in Columbia was generated from renewable sources. The existing standard requires the use of renewable sources reach 10 percent by 2017, and 15 percent by the end of 2022.

Wind turbine built at MU

Oct 4, 2012
Kirk Kittell / flikr

A new 20-kilowatt wind turbine was constructed on MU’s campus on the corner of Monk Drive and Stadium Boulevard Tuesday.

Newscast for March 26, 2012

Mar 26, 2012
Kirk Kittell / flikr

Regional news coverage from the KBIA News room, including:

  • Missouri House yet to consider education bill
  • Attorney general holds town-hall meetings for homeowners
  • Conference brings renewable energy experts to Columbia
Kirk Kittell / flikr

Renewable energy was the topic of a conference on the MU campus today. About 180 people from around the Midwest gathered to hear from experts on the future of wind, biomass and solar energy in the region.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This week: Missouri could gain over two hundred thousand jobs by the 2025, and the Department of Labor proposed new regulations on kids working on the farm who are under 16.