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.
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.
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.
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.