Renewable energy requirement met for Columbia

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Columbia Water and Light met its 2012 renewable energy requirement with the purchase of energy from a new facility that turns gas from landfills into electricity.

Mayor Darwin Hindman, Gov. Jay Nixon and representatives from Columbia Water and Light, Ameresco and Republic Services Inc. were on hand Monday to celebrate the completion of a project that will convert methane from the Jefferson City Landfill into electricity.

Massachusetts-based Ameresco constructed a 3-mile pipeline to pump the landfill gas to an engine facility located at the nearby Jefferson City Correctional Center. The steam will be used to make hot water, cutting the natural gas consumption of the Jefferson City Correctional Center and the Algoa Correctional Center by 50 percent, Nixon said.

According to a news release from Columbia Water and Light, the project will provide enough electricity for 2,000 Columbia customers.

Columbia Water and Light purchases the majority of its electrical output from outside sources.

The project ensures that the city will meet a mandate passed in November 2004 by Columbia voters that requires the city's municipal utility to generate or purchase at least 5 percent of its energy output from renewable sources, including solar, wind and landfill. The next requirement is 10 percent by 2017.

"This is meeting the will of the people as expressed by a more than 70 percent margin in their vote," Hindman said. "Interestingly enough, the goals, which are escalating goals, they call for 5 percent of all of our electric generation to come from renewable fuels by the year 2012, but with this project, we've already reached that goal."

The proposition was passed by 78 percent of voters with a total of 45,460 votes. The population was about 91,000 in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The energy purchase will not affect the rates of Columbia residents, Hindman added.

Through the landfill project and by closing a boiler plant at the Algoa Correctional Center, Nixon said the state will save more than $1 million annually.

According to Jacqueline Lapine, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, the Algoa plant has already been closed.

Nixon said the facility will generate 80 jobs in Jefferson City, and Lapine reported that no jobs were lost by closing the Algoa boiler plant because of retirements and replacement.

"I've often said to keep Missouri's economic engine moving forward, we need to compete and win in this new economy," Nixon said. "We must encourage and embrace emerging science and technology."

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