There is proof that the wheels at City Hall do turn. In January, I wrote about a public meeting that was held, sponsored by the utility watchdog group, Indy Energy (www.indyenergy.org). The meeting was with Independence Power & Light, Missouri Sierra Club, and International Brotherhood Electrical Workers No. 53 (IBEW). The topic was energy. Specifically, two coal-fired power plants in Independence were the main topics on the table: the Missouri City power plant (the oldest coal-fired power plant in the state) and Blue Valley power plant (the fourth oldest coal-fired power plant in the state).
There has been much research and publication about the ill effects of coal power, both on the environment and human health. I do not intend to spend time on that here, what I do want to expound on is the wisdom and progressive thinking of the Independence City Council.
At their last meeting, the Independence City Council unanimously supported a resolution that contained, “…an aggressive renewable energy agenda, calls for a rate study and who curtail ceasing burning coal at the city-owned Missouri City and Blue Valley power plants in 2016,” stated the IndyEnergy website. After all of these months of discussions with the City Council, IPL, and interest groups, Council Member Scott Roberson introduced the resolution; the first formal action taken by the Independence City Council on IPLs future energy plans.
The resolution calls for several things, including:
• Directs City Manager to insure Missouri City and Blue Valley stop burning coal by January 2016. Blue Valley will switch to natural gas fuel (which it was original built to burn) Missouri City will close permanently.
• City staff to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy on city buildings and for expanding clean energy incentives for IPL customers.
• Sets a goal for Independence to triple its reliance on clean energy, calling for IPL to source 10 percent of its electricity supplied from renewable sources by 2018, and to increase that goal to 15 percent by 2021.
As I pointed out in my column in January, this is the direction that Leon Daggett, Director of Independence Power & Light, stated their plans were headed; the resolution puts this in writing and gives the plan the council’s support.
“This is a turning point for Independence,” said Roger Hershey, a leader of Indy Energy, a community group that has promoted energy options for the city. “Independence will benefit for generations to come from this decision to move away from coal and toward a brighter clean energy future.”
“We applaud the Independence City Council for this landmark decision,” said Andy Knott, Missouri Beyond Coal Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Implementing this roadmap to build a local clean energy economy positions Independence to become a leader among electric utilities in Missouri.”
Accolades are due to the City Council, this is perhaps the most aggressive clean energy resolution undertaken by any council in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Such action reflects strong leadership and vision. It takes stalwart people with vision such as this to be willing to take the action needed to do what is right to protect our natural resources, and provide for safer, cleaner energy at the same time.
Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net