Almost 16 percent of energy sources used in Columbia in 2017 were renewable, a report presented to the City Council on Monday shows.
This exceeded the city’s goal of having 5 percent of all energy come from renewable sources in 2017, and puts Columbia Water and Light on track to meet the goal of using 15 percent renewable energy by the end of 2018.
These renewable energy goals were first approved by voters in 2004 and were updated by the council in 2014 to raise the standards. Columbia Water and Light has consistently beat the goals, according to the city.
Wind energy made up the 12 percent of energy produced last year, and plans to expand solar and landfill gas energy are in the works.
Residents raised questions about the calculation of the costs, suggesting that the utility company may have incorrectly counted solar energy production and costs.
One of the commenters was Jay Hasheider, a former Water and Light utility employee and member of the Water and Light Advisory Board. He pointed out changes that were made to the way the utility calculated the use of solar energy and expressed frustration the changes were made without the input of the board.
“The Water and Light Board has expressed some severe reservations about it,” he said.
Water and Light Utility representatives said they are open to changing the way they tabulate the renewable energy costs in the future.
Despite criticism of the utility’s calculations, the council voted to approve the report and take a look at how the costs are calculated in the future.
Columbia Water and Light received an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy this year for its support of renewable energy usage.
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