LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Columbia should focus on renewable energy

Monday, January 28, 2013 | 1:56 p.m. CST

The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County strongly supports council member Barbara Hoppe's proposal to increase the goals in Columbia’s renewable energy ordinance. The League’s national position on energy policy includes "predominant reliance on renewable resources" as well as "emphasis on conserving energy and using energy-efficient technologies." Both approaches, independently or together, can be used in the next decade to meet Columbia's needs instead of purchasing additional electricity from fossil-fueled power plants.

Columbia’s initial Home Performance with Energy Star program not only cut homeowner utility bills by 30 percent on average but also reduced the city’s total electric demand. This successful outcome shows the tremendous energy savings potential in Columbia’s buildings.

In recent years, numerous coal plants have been retired and proposed plants abandoned because of the changing economics of coal and the growth of alternative sources. If Columbia signs a long term agreement for fossil-fueled power, it could find itself in 10 years stuck with old technology that is not cost-efficient.

The purchase of the Columbia Energy Center has given Columbia sufficient electric capacity to meet projected capacity requirements for at least the next decade. This capacity, in conjunction with market energy and renewable energy, can assure the reliability of our future electricity supply.

When the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement was signed six years ago, the city made a commitment to significantly reduce local greenhouse gas emissions. It is time to increase renewable energy goals and develop new energy efficiency programs to help us meet that commitment.

Marilyn McLeod and Carol Schreiber are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County.

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