City poised to purchase wind-power contract

Thursday, February 13, 2014 | 5:26 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA —  Columbia is closing in on the purchase of its largest contract for electricity generated by wind.

Water and Light is proposing the purchase of wind energy from a northwest Missouri wind farm that has been operational since 2009.

Connie Kacprowicz, communications and marketing supervisor for Water and Light, said the city won't disclose the name of the company selling the electricity to Columbia until contract negotiations are concluded and it goes to the City Council.

The 20 megawatt power purchase will cost an estimated $900,000, according to a memo from Water and Light Director Tad Johnsen. In perfect conditions, this could power about one-third of homes in Columbia, Tom O'Connor of the Water and Light Advisory Board said.

"This seems to be a fairly good deal," Kacprowicz said. "This is half the price of the wind we bought before."

According to the memo from Johnsen, the purchase has the potential to push the city's renewable energy portfolio to more than 11 percent,  a 4 percent increase from last year. It also keeps the city on track to meet the goals in a renewable energy ordinance that has the long-term goal of the city using renewable energy for 30 percent of electricity by 2028.

"This is a big step forward and a big chunk of renewables in our portfolio," O'Connor said. He attributed the lower cost to an increasing supply of wind power.

O'Connor said he does not believe this purchase will have any significant effect on electric rates for city customers; the city is projecting a 0.83 percent increase.

"In general it looks to me the cost of this is comparable to what we pay for our other energy," O'Connor said. "This wind will certainly be cheaper than some of the coal we buy."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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