COMMENTARY | Perhaps the nuclear energy criticisms have been heard in Missouri. In light of Japan’s nuclear disaster and a safety inspection at the Callaway nuclear plant, a special Missouri House committee will create rules regarding the state’s renewable energy future.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the issue revolves around a vote-approved mandate to make 15 percent of Missouri’s energy come from renewable resources by 2021. Originally, the Missouri Public Service Commission approved rules mandating the energy sources come from Missouri companies. Utilities balked at the idea and pushed the General Assembly to change the rule.
There is also a stipulation that energy companies can’t raise rates by more than one percent in order to pay for the compliance. It’s a difficult sell in a state that relies on 80 percent of its power from cheap coal-burning power plants.
With gasoline prices escalating and fears of nuclear meltdowns are stoked, it’s no wonder the Missouri General Assembly is suddenly all about fixing Missouri’s green energy dilemma. Voters approved the law in 2008. By the end of this year, two percent of our energy is supposed to come from renewable sources.
Missouri is replete with fine examples of wind energy usage. Rock Port, Mo., is the first community in the country believed to be entirely run on energy produced from wind turbines. John Deere helped sponsor the first commercial wind farm in northwest Missouri in 2006 even before the mandate was approved.
There are other ways to get creative with Missouri’s energy needs. Gigantic wind farms don’t have to be the answer. Companies make smaller wind turbines available for individual homes all the time. Providing tax incentives for homeowners is one way to get the green revolution going in Missouri.
The problem with that take is that it may not produce massive amounts of construction jobs. The largest wind farm in Missouri in DeKalb County produced 2,500 jobs in 2009 and 2010. It produces 150 megawatts of energy in northwest Missouri where winds are capable of turning large turbines.
Missouri used to lead the way in wind energy production despite lagging behind Iowa and Texas. If the General Assembly continues to delay making rules for the renewable energy mandate, we will fall even further behind. A recent example exists in a wind farm project moved to Illinois from Missouri because Illinois was more favorable for the development. There goes the high-paying jobs and a lost opportunity.
It’s time to stop trying to fix the six and making renewable energy work for Missouri. Green energy creates jobs, makes energy more readily available and will help reduce America’s dependence upon dangerous forms of energy such as nuclear and carbon-producing coal fired power plants.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.