According to a new Missouri initiative, Ameren UE has to more than double their output of electricity coming from clean energy sources in the next twelve years. What is their plan for doing so?
In November of 2008, Missouri citizens passed the Missouri Clean Energy Initiative by a vote of 2 to 1. This initiative decrees that by the year 2021, all utilities in the state must produce at least 15% of their electricity from clean energy sources. According to the Ameren website, the company currently has the capability to produce 7.1% of their electricity from hydroelectric power. The rest comes from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. How is Ameren going to deal with this initiative?
The initiative defines clean energy as being one of the following forms: wind, solar, landfill gas, hydroelectric and biomass. According to Lisa Cosgrove of the renewables group with Ameren UE, most of these resources could be in Ameren's plans. "Once we identify regional resources with the most technical and economic potential, we will implement a plan to develop these resources." Cosgrove stated via e-mail.
Along with the hydroelectric generation Ameren already generates they have just contracted with the Horizon Wind Energy’s Pioneer wind farm in Iowa to purchase 102 megawatts per year for the next 15 years. This represents enough energy to power 26,000 homes per year.
Cosgrove also mentioned wind farms that are currently being developed in Northwest Missouri. These farms could produce between 100-150 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year. This would be a good beginning according to Renew Missouri, who claims that Missouri ranks 20th of the 50 states in wind energy potential, yet ranks 45th in the amount of energy produced from wind.
The initiative requires that at least 2% of the utilities electricity production must be from solar. According to Cosgrove, no large scale solar projects are presently in the plans at Ameren due to the high cost and low capacity factor. Ameren is looking into purchasing electricity from solar sources, much like they will be doing with wind energy.
The passage of the clean energy initiative does, however, offer encouragement to individual homeowners and businesses to explore solar for themselves. According to Missouri Solar Living, LLC, residents and businesses in Missouri can receive $2 per watt rebates for installation of solar power systems. They also can receive a federal tax credit of 30% and the $2000 cap on tax credits has been eliminated. Also, the Missouri Net metering and easy connect act that took effect on January 1, 2008 now allows individuals and businesses to sell any excess power they generate to local utilities.
Cosgrove also talked about the Ameren Pure Power program. This program, named by the U.S. Department of Energy as the "most successful" New Green Power Program of the year in 2007, allows customers of Ameren to pay an additional 1.5 cents per kWh on their electric bills to purchase renewable energy credits (REC's).
The Pure Power program, which as of October 27, 2008 had purchased REC's equal to 37,000 MWh of renewable energy, has been Green-e energy certified. Green-e is the leading renewable energy certification and verification program in the United States.
The REC's are used to develop regional renewable energy resources helping to replace pollution-causing power with clean power. This creates a demand for the development of regional renewable resources thereby creating local jobs and keeping local money in the region.
While Ameren has more plans to make to catch up with the 26 other states that already have clean energy initiatives, they have made a start. According to Cosgrove we should "stay tuned to the local news. An Ameren UE renewable announcement is in the near future."