LETTER: Now is the time to switch to clean energy

Saturday, July 17, 2010 | 4:50 p.m. CDT

Just imagine Columbia's streets being free of coal-hauling trucks. Just imagine, no more smoke stacks clouding our view of the horizon and reminding us of an age gone by. Imagine it being clean energy that lights our stadiums and fuels our campus. Just imagine if this could all be done, if it could all be true. I think that it can, and here is how.

The MU Power Plant is about to invest in a new coal-handling system, one that will cost tens of millions of dollars. I say, move toward the future, and stop buying into the past. Now is the time to make the change to clean energy. The amount of funding and public support has never been higher.

Natural gas is clean and is becoming more and more abundant, while methane gas technology is advancing everyday. Some day, perhaps, our Missouri hog farms can be a source of clean energy, as well as bacon, etc.

But none of this will happen without you. If this clean energy future is worth having, it is worth fighting for. So call the campus, call the state, start writing those letters and ask "why not?" Why not move forward? Why not lead? If this is something you want then "show me."

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Mark Foecking July 17, 2010 | 6:51 p.m.

"Clean" energy is the future, however, how would you suggest they make the transition? Where will they put the solar panels or wind turbines? What will they use for backup power on dark, still nights like we've had recently? Coal generates roughly 35 MW at MU, and this is not a trivial amount of power to generate renewably. The visual (and noise, in the case of wind) impact on the campus would be quite significant.

Not that I wouldn't like to see it also. But it's too easy to fall into the trap of asking for something that more knowledgeable people have already considered and discarded as impractical (at the current time).

Have you invested in renewable energy yourself? Why or why not?


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 18, 2010 | 8:37 a.m.

Huckstering clean energy is one thing, actually having it is something else.

Any "clean energy policy" for University of Missouri System should be a System-wide policy, it being understood that conditions at individual campuses may dictate that campus solutions won't be identical.

At-campus power generation using coal as fuel isn't confined to MU; at least one other campus, Missouri University of Science & Technology, uses the same system. Those two campuses, Columbia and Rolla, existed for many years before formation of the System in 1963. Do the Kansas City and St. Louis campuses generate their own power (if so, what fuel is used?) or do they buy power from a commercial utility? We could share our ignorance about that or we might find out.

This is NOT a one-campus university. You can pretend that it is, but it isn't!

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