Columbians conveyed their support for limiting the city’s dependence on fossil fuels, joining a growing number of cities across the nation including Chicago; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Austin, Texas — by passing a renewable energy standard for the local power supply.
The measure, with well more than half the ballots counted by press time, was passing with an impressive 78 percent of the vote.
With the passage of Proposition 3, the city is now required to purchase increasing amounts of renewable energy, including landfill gas, wind and solar power. The required purchases will begin with 2 percent of the city’s power supply by the end of 2007 and will increase to 15 percent of the power supply by 2022.
Columbians for Clean Energy, a coalition whose leaders include Sierra Club members and local consumer advocates, was the driving force behind the green energy measure.
“We were confident it was going to pass, and we didn’t hear of any organized opposition,” said Chris Hayday, a group leader. “We’ll probably go out in a few days and give ourselves a pat on the back.”
Now it’s up to the council to decide whether alterations to the plan should be made.
Fifth Ward Councilman John John said officials have been hesitant to alter voter-driven propositions in the past, but he expressed concerns about the availability of wind power from Kansas.
A Columbia Water and Light Department report said the city can meet the first 2 percent goal with a rate increase of less than 1 percent and buy nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy from renewable sources for a rate increase of 1.6 percent.