GUEST COMMENTARY: Peoples' Visioning addresses energy needs in Columbia

Monday, February 17, 2014 | 3:58 p.m. CST; updated 6:41 p.m. CST, Monday, February 17, 2014

This past year, Peoples Visioning quickly began pursuing our renewable energy, conservation and energy efficiency list with good results.

In February 2013, the People's Visioning creative concept for a low-income, Net-Zero energy affordable family home was achieved. A partnership with Habitat for Humanity, as builders of the People's Visioning concept, brought a win for both of us, the city of Columbia and the region.

The  design concept from our excellent "Green Design Team" was the only Net-Zero energy demonstration of its kind in the state. Thanks to our project partners and the design team for helping bring this "building of the future" to show that Net-Zero energy building is both affordable and possible through improved conservation, design, energy-efficiency and generation on site.

Efforts to direct us to abundant, free, far less toxic, renewable energy choices has led People's Visioning to oppose public investment in new, nonrenewable, challenging, costly-to-extract, polluting energy sources. This includes the damaging and unproved technologies now demonstrating further harm to the surrounding environment and human health.

Recent MU research on fracking and the endocrine system are gaining national attention. The studies show that more research and strong caution regarding technologies such as fracking are highly advisable and are sounding alarms.

Taken together with a strong increase in disasters the size and scope of the West Virginia chemical spill; multiple spills and explosions of Tar Sands bitumen, "fracked" oil or other natural gas pipeline or rail explosions; the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant with its catastrophic and far-reaching impacts; the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, still not resolved; not to mention various climate change and weather disasters, it is easy to see why we need to quickly move to cleaner, safer, healthier technology and energy sources.

Join Peoples’ Visioning for an evening on these topics, highlighting MU’s research on fracking chemicals and public health with guest speaker, study author and researcher Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health, to learn more about this important topic and solutions People's Visioning is advocating.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Friends Room, Columbia Public Library, Broadway and Garth. 

People's Visioning led the community to greater renewable energy standards with our push at City Hall and with appropriate boards and commissions who took up our call. We advocate plans in order that new and existing environments can quickly become Net-Zero energy, bringing greater wealth and better health to the owners.

The People's Visioning plan proposes appropriate considerations so low-income, special needs, disabled and elderly customers can use our public utility’s Home Performance with Energy Star program. Homeowners in this group do not have to pay, in many cases, to accomplish the required energy audit and pay for energy-saving upgrades. Investing in the energy-saving upgrades will lower utility bills.

Other homeowners and landlords can already take advantage of this program with its benefits and reduced energy bills in a different financial category. Additional cost-effective energy savings or energy-creating incentives could also be included.

People's Visioning encourages participation in locally generating renewable energy, after conservation and efficiency have been achieved through the Home Performance with Energy Star program. We encourage landlords to participate in these appropriate, energy-investment opportunities for all.

To assist renters and property owners alike, we propose a program to highlight rental properties with low utility rates. We also suggest establishing a "participating landlord" list and website for rental shoppers to access information about various landlords and properties that offer lower-energy expenses, are well-maintained and thus more comfortable.

This list, with related energy and other relevant landlord or rental property information, could be a separate website or data kept on the city's website.

We also recommend community and/or neighborhood solar and renewable energy generating sites to keep energy-loss costs down. In addition, we encourage policies and energy economy captured from beautiful, cooling, CO2 storing trees.

These are the kind of initiatives we want, instead of nonrenewable energy directions that divert investment in renewable energy and a cleaner, healthier future.

Monta Welch is the founder and president of Columbia Climate Change Coalition and the Interfaith Care for Creation; she is also director of Columbia People's Visioning.

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Seileach Corleigh February 20, 2014 | 4:32 p.m.

These are very important concerns, and I'm glad that there are so many folks in Columbia who are working on them.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2014 | 4:50 p.m.

I'm curious about your statement: "...the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant with its catastrophic and far-reaching impacts"

Please define "far-reaching impacts."


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