I don’t know if wind-power is the future of energy generation in the state of Missouri, but I do know that a small outstate Missouri town and an innovative St. Louis company have already teamed up to show off wind’s potential. Sleepy Rock Port, about 350 miles from here, is the first city in the country to jump off the traditional coal/nuke energy grid and rely on wind-generated electricity. Through a happy coincidence of interests and proximity, all of Rock Port’s electricity is generated by four turbines on a northwest Missouri wind farm built by Wind Capital Group, a company with a headquarters on Washington Avenue.
I thought of this unlikely partnership while I was studying Proposition C. If a majority of voters approve it next month, Prop C will require investor-owned utilities, like Ameren, to make or buy some electricity from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, and water - two percent of the total by 2011 and 15 percent by 2021. Twenty-six other states already have similar requirements in place.
Our local utility company isn’t particularly wild about having a legal mandate to shift to renewable energy technologies - but, it is not actively opposing Prop C, either. Ameren, understandably enough, says it would like to maintain as much flexibility as it can in choosing the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective ways of generating power. And it points out that it is already investing in alternative energies. Still, twelve years to get to fifteen percent sounds like a pretty flexible requirement to me.
I know that the costs of energy are taking bigger and bigger bites out of the City’s budget - and out of your family budget - every year. Relying more on cheaper, renewable sources seems like a reasonable idea for Missouri. And, in an era when many traditional jobs are leaving, Prop C has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in manufacturing, construction, maintenance, operation, service, supply, and retail.
I’m voting for Proposition C.