Officials, environmentalists call for St. Louis to depend entirely on renewable energy by 2035
The city of St. Louis could soon commit to an ambitious goal to depend on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for its electricity by 2035.
Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed introduced a resolution Friday that would completely transition the city away from using fossil fuels. The St. Louis region currently receives less than 5 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources.
The proposed resolution notes that using more energy from renewable sources is crucial to combating climate change, creating jobs and improving public health.
"We're seeing disasters happening all across our country right now, in part exacerbated by climate change," said Sarah Edgar, a campaign organizer with the Missouri Sierra Club. "So we know that it's critical to take local action to mitigate this threat."
The Sierra Club runs a nationwide initiative called "Ready for 100," in which other cities, among them Kansas City, have made commitments to also obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. A few cities in the country, including Burlington, Vermont, and Rock Port, Missouri, already have achieved the goal.
If the non-binding resolution passes, the city would organize meetings to include community members and stakeholders such as Ameren Missouri to develop a plan by the end of 2018.
"Ameren Missouri fully supports the efforts of all of our customers, including local governments and businesses, seeking to receive more of their energy from renewable sources," said Michael Moehn, president of Ameren Missouri, in an emailed statement. "We share the desire for renewable energy. That's why we're embracing new technologies and expanding service offerings that include a wide range of innovative and renewable energy solutions."
The resolution could also help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, a goal noted in the city's climate action plan.
Reed thinks that joining the effort would make an impression on people outside of St. Louis who want to live in progressive areas.
"People now, when they're deciding where to live, they're looking for things like how renewable is that city," Reed said. "And we can just choose to live in the past and we'll see ourselves be left behind while other cities experience the growth we hope to have."
Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli