COLUMBIA — The City Council unanimously approved an annual energy purchase from a wind farm in northern Iowa on Monday.
The purchase of 60 megawatt hours per year from the Crystal Lake Wind Energy Center is enough to power roughly 6,000 homes. It will increase Columbia's reliance on renewable energy sources by an estimated 2.6 percent, putting the city's total at 8 percent.
The cost of the electricity to the city would start at $42.50 per megawatt hour and increase by $1 increments to a fixed cost of $45 in 2015 for the remainder of the 20-year contract.
The purchase's potential impact on electric customers' rates is roughly 0.75 percent, or 57 cents for the average residential customer's monthly bill of $76.26.
This is in line with the city's 2004 renewable energy ordinance, which stipulates that renewable energy costs cannot raise electricity rates to customers by more than 3 percent over what they would be without renewable energy.
The ordinance also requires that by 2013 Columbia must rely on renewable energy for 5 percent of its total energy usage, a number that was surpassed in 2010.
The requirement increases to 10 percent by 2018, and 15 percent by 2023. Because it is a percentage of total energy, if the city's total energy load increases so does the requirement for renewable energy.
In 2011, 5.4 percent of all electricity consumed in Columbia was generated by renewable resources, according to a report by Columbia Water and Light.