Wow! Have we had some beautiful sunny days lately! Not only do sunny days brighten our souls and seem to lighten our step, sunny days in winter are especially important for charging photovoltaic cells.
Did you know that a half day of sunlight, in the winter, striking the United States could provide all of the energy for an entire year for the whole country (according to the University of Delaware)? Just think if every house, building, bridge and other structures had photovoltaic panels on them soaking up all of that solar energy. It would solve so many of our problems today.
The good news is that Missouri is doing its best to be a leader in this industry – at least the citizens are. In 2008, when the citizens voted in Proposition C, also known as the Clean Energy Initiative They knew they wanted Missouri to lessen its dependence on “dirty” energy and begin to develop sources for renewable energy, produce jobs and keep this new clean energy in Missouri.
Prop C required utility companies to gradually increase their usage of renewable energy annually until 15 percent of the energy used in the state was renewable. It also required that energy rates not increase more than 1 percent annually.
However, immediately after Prop C passed by a 66 percent margin, legislators passed an exemption, taking the bite out of it. One of the main changes to the initiative, which nearly 2 million citizens passed, was that electricity from renewable sources produced or sold in Missouri could now be outsourced. The majority of solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy machinery now comes from outside the country, giving those jobs to foreigners.
In 2011, Rep. Jason Holsman introduced House Bill 613, which would repeal and replace Prop C and would cut the mandate for renewable energy in half. (Great vision, Jason.) The bill failed.
P.J. Wilson, director of Renew Missouri, has been looking at whether to file a new ballot measure with the same renewable energy targets as the initial proposal and give the state Office of Public Counsel the authority to monitor enforcement of the new standards.
Why is all of this important now? Technology is at a place where you can actually have solar panels on your house, generate your own energy, make more than you need and sell it back to the grid (the electric company). Now is when it matters.
In January, I attended an energy forum hosted by Indy Energy and the Mid-Continent Public Library. Independence Power and Light and the Sierra Club also spoke. I must say I was impressed by all of the speakers; their passion came through.
Indy Energy is hosting another energy forum, “Understanding Solar Energy and Options for Independence,” at 10 a.m. March 22 at the North Independence branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library. I encourage you to attend and discover what energy is on our horizon. Become an informed citizen!
Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, a residential energy client service coordinator certified by the National Energy Retrofit Institute, and a past nature center manager with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.