Your Opinion: Oppose obstacle to renewable energy

Dear Editor:

Ever since Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standards were passed by a two-thirds majority as Proposition C in 2008, Ameren and its allies in the Legislature have been on a campaign to stall, obstruct and ultimately overturn them.

In February, the House of Representatives passed HB44, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman (R), which counts old hydroelectric dams as meeting the Renewable Energy Standards (RES). This would eliminate the need for the state to increase its solar and wind energy generation capacity. No new renewable energy generation would need to be built, creating thousands of high paying jobs in construction, engineering, architecture, manufacturing, marketing and transportation throughout Missouri’s economy.

Missouri is a coal-burning state, generating 80 percent of its electricity from coal imported from Wyoming. The purpose of the RES are to require investor-owned utilities to increase generation from renewable sources of energy in Missouri, to 15 percent by 2021. A number of states have already surpassed this level, including Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado and Texas.

In Massachusetts, with the support of Governor Patrick and the Legislature, solar photovoltaic capacity has increased from 16 megawatts (MW) to more than 200 MW in the last three years. Massachusetts is within a year and a half of reaching the 400 MW target of the existing solar carve-out. Maryland has a 1,300 MW goal for solar energy deployment, while New Jersey has a 4,000 MW goal.

In Missouri, the solar industry is just beginning to take off, with 5 MW of newly installed generation capacity. This is a valiant start in view of the intense opposition from Ameren’s allies in the Legislature, and a governor whose vocabulary does not contain the word renewable. Passage in the Senate of HB44 would wipe out this fledgling industry before it can initiate a revitalization of the state’s economy.

Today the U.S. solar industry employs more workers than the coal industry, over 119,000 Americans at 5,600 companies across all 50 states — more than double the number working in solar in 2009. However, if the implacable, outdated fossil fuel lobby has its way, Missouri’s jobs and economy will continue to sputter, casting away the vast economic benefits of this renewable energy renaissance.

Supporters of renewable energy, Renew Missouri, Sierra Club, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association, are urgently calling for concerned citizens to please contact their state senators to voice their opposition to HB44.

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