Renewable Energy | St. Louis Public Radio

Renewable Energy

A worker installing a solar panel.
Ameren Missouri

Ameren Missouri plans to install solar farms and storage facilities for three rural Missouri communities. 

If approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission, the $68 million project could provide solar power to as many as 10,000 residents in Utica and Green City, in northern Missouri, and Richwoods, 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. The three cities are at the end of 20-mile transmission lines and often experience long power outages.

A manure-to-energy operation at one of Smithfield Foods' farms in Missouri.
Smithfield Farms

Hog producer Smithfield Foods has completed a pipeline in Missouri to transport natural gas derived from pig manure. 

The company announced Monday that it finished building a pipeline that connects one of its farms to Milan, a city located 130 miles north of Columbia. Smithfield Foods also captures methane, or natural gas, at two other Missouri farms, near Bethany and Princeton.

A geothermal test well at Parkway South High School in Manchester, Missouri.
Erik Lueders| Parkway School District

Parkway South High School in Manchester this year will use geothermal energy, an uncommonly used form of renewable energy, to power its heating and cooling systems.

Parkway School District plans will soon install the geothermal units, which use heat from the earth. The $2.4 million system, which will replace the school’s aging chillers, was largely funded by a recent bond issue.

Replacing the chillers with cooling towers would have been less expensive than the geothermal units. But the geothermal units would save the school district $1.9 million over 30 years, said Erik Lueders, director of purchasing and sustainability at the Parkway School District.

Wind turbines and transmission towers in the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County, Indiana.
Chris Light | Wikimedia Commons

The Missouri Public Service Commission gave the green light Wednesday to allow a 780-mile wind-energy transmission line to be built across Missouri.

The Grain Belt Express transmission line will deliver nearly 4,000 megawatts of power from wind farms in western Kansas to parts of Missouri, Illinois and some eastern states. The line would course through eight Missouri counties, including Caldwell, Randolph and Monroe.

This array of solar panels on top of a building helps power the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
File photo | Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association

Mayor Lyda Krewson signed the Sierra Club’s “Mayors For 100 Percent Clean Energy” pledge on Tuesday, signaling her commitment to helping the city some day becoming completely reliant on renewable energy. 

In signing the pledge, Krewson joins the mayors of more than 200 cities — including Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City — who have expressed their support of renewable energy as the Trump administration actively rolls back regulations such as emissions limits for power plants.

“We’ve got to look out for generations to come,” Krewson said. “I wish we all have understood that 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. But we’re here today, so we do what we can today.”

The Sierra Club hopes action at the local level will result in grassroots changes that will slow the effects of climate change.

This is one of the solar powered homes in the study of new lead acid batteries on November 9. 2018
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri University of Science and Technology and two companies that manufacture batteries in Missouri are teaming up on a research project that could make it easier for homes to run exclusively on renewable energy.

The university and representatives from the businessesannounced the three-year project Friday on the Rolla campus.

Solar panels are one upgrade business can make with PACE financing. The Fairview Heights City Council will consider tonight whether to allow the financing program in its city.
File photo| Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Clean-energy companies in Missouri are finding it difficult to hire qualified workers, even as the number of residents in the state working in energy efficiency, electric transportation and renewable energy grows.

A report released this week by business group Environmental Entrepreneurs and environmental think tank Clean Energy Trust said the low unemployment rate could be one factor, as a shortage of job seekers is affecting many industries. It also pointed to federal policies, such as the Trump administration’s decision to impose a tariff on imported solar panels, as another potential challenge that’s suppressing growth among clean energy companies.

Tesla installed a 200-kilowatt solar array to power the Hospital del Niño in Puerto Rico.
Tesla

About a month ago, PJ Wilson arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where 3.4 million people were left without power after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Wilson, the former director of Renew Missouri, noticed immediately that many residents were suffering from depression, after having lost their jobs or not being able to reach loved ones by phone. 

A wind turbine.
Provided by Ameren Missouri

Missouri's largest utility company announced plans today that could dramatically reduce its impact on the environment. 

Ameren Missouri released multiple goals it hopes to achieve, which include adding 700 megawatts of wind power generation by 2020, along with 100 megawatts of solar power by 2027. Company leaders are speaking to developers about a potential wind farm project and hope to provide more details by the end of this year.

A solar energy project on the roof of Nestle Purina's builidng in downtown St. Louis.
Microgrid Energy

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.

Microgrid installed two solar arrays at Busch Stadium.
Microgrid Energy

Nearly 600,000 people in the Midwest are working in the clean energy sector and that number likely will continue to rise, according to advocates for the industry. 

The nonprofit groups Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs released a report Thursday that demonstrated a significant increase in the past year in the number of people who work in fields such as wind and solar power and energy auditing. Illinois led the region's clean energy sector growth by adding nearly 120,000 jobs, largely in the area of energy efficiency. Missouri showed growth in multiple areas, including renewable energy, which saw jobs grow by 14.5 percent in the last year.

Provided by Solar Roadways

Roads paved with solar panels may sound futuristic, but people soon will walk and maybe even drive on them in Missouri. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation recently announced plans to build a walkway with solar panels at the historic Route 66 welcome center in Conway, Mo., which is about 180 miles southwest of St. Louis. Electricity generated from the panels would power the welcome center.  The pilot project will examine how feasible it is to use the technology before the department considers putting it on more roads and sidewalks.

(Jerry W. Lewis' Flickr page)

Missouri has the highest growth rate in the Midwest when it comes to creating clean energy jobs – so says a new survey released Tuesday by a group of clean energy advocates.

And a coalition of advocates, consisting of the Missouri Energy Initiative (MEI), Clean Energy Trust (CET), and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), is pushing for the Show-Me State to adopt President Barack Obama's Clean Energy Plan.

The Sierra Club is appealing to Ameren shareholders in an attempt to prompt the utility to move away from coal-based energy.

The organization has submitted a resolution to shareholders calling for at least 30-percent wind and solar sourced energy by 2030 and at least 70-percent by 2050.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

Environmental advocates are praising the new Clean Power Plan announced Monday by President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency. Business groups are critical.

The new rule is designed to cut emissions by 32 percent by the year 2030, based on levels recorded in 2005, and it will use state-by-state targets to implement the emissions cuts, with states having flexibility in how to reach the goals. In a statement that included its outline of the plan's components, the White House said, "The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants."

Sen. Dick Durbin
Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

Farmers, biofuel producers and, now, several U.S. senators who back the production of renewable fuels say the Environmental Protection Agency is putting the renewable fuels industry in a state of uncertainty.

Solar panels are one upgrade business can make with PACE financing. The Fairview Heights City Council will consider tonight whether to allow the financing program in its city.
File photo| Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The uncertainty of state and federal incentives for wind and solar power may have hampered some of Missouri's growth in the renewable energy industry in recent years, but companies are pressing on. 

Among the projects available for loans through GreenHELP is installing solar energy panels.
Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

Missouri's highest court has ruled that lawmakers acted too soon in 2008 when they sought to place limits on a ballot initiative on renewable energy before it had gone to the voters.

Last Chance To Weigh In On Missouri's State Energy Plan

Jan 30, 2015
State of Rhode Island Division of Planning

Time is running out to provide input on Missouri’s state energy plan.

The public comment period officially ends on Saturday, although the online form will likely remain available at least through the weekend.

Lewis Mills directs the state Division of Energy, which is developing the plan. He said so far, public comments have centered on a handful of themes.

Ameren’s 2,400-megawatt plant near Labadie, Missouri, is the state’s largest coal-fired power plant. It produces an average of 550,000 tons of coal ash each year.
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10/1/2014 to add comments.

Missouri is making headway toward developing a Comprehensive State Energy Plan Wednesday with the inaugural public meeting in St. Louis of the plan's steering committee.

Also on Wednesday, the state's largest electric energy provider, Ameren, released its energy plan for the next two decades.

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

The Environment Protection Agency’s proposed regulations on carbon emissions released earlier this month are sparking debate on whether the rule changes will create jobs or kill jobs.

The new rules seek to reduce American’s carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. States have until June 30, 2016 to draft plans for how to reduce their average emissions.

Among the projects available for loans through GreenHELP is installing solar energy panels.
Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

(Updated at 10:25 p.m. on Thursday)

A report from the NAACP says Missouri should increase production of renewable power and require utilities to offer energy efficiency programs. 

Accomplishing those goals, the report says, could provide better health, cheaper utility bills and more manufacturing jobs in the state’s urban core.

(via Flickr/spacepleb)

Renewable energy consumption in Missouri is trailing the rest of the nation, and coal is likely to remain a big part of the state’s energy future.

Those were some of the findings in a new report from the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Brian Dabson co-authored the report and hopes it will kick start a discussion about what policy makers can do spur green energy production in Missouri.

Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

The use of alternative energies such as solar and wind is not new though advancements in technology and conversations about the effects of climate change are ongoing.

Many communities, including some in the St. Louis area, are making a big commitment to going green and utilizing solar energy with the encouragement of the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Green Power Community Challenge includes Clayton and Creve Coeur.

Host Don Marsh led a discussion about the commercial and residential use of solar energy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The renewable energy community has long been in something of a quandary. Everyone wants more solar and wind power, but the dilemma is obvious.

What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine?

It was a question which Willett Kempton wanted to answer.  How dependable are these sources, known in the industry as “variable generation,” in dealing with a working power grid?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The renewable energy community has long been in something of a quandary. Everyone wants more solar and wind power, but the dilemma is obvious.

What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine?

It was a question which Willett Kempton wanted to answer.  How dependable are these sources, known in the industry as “variable generation,” in dealing with a working power grid?

(Jerry W. Lewis' Flickr page)

Updated 1/2/2013 with the credit's legislative developments.

While “fiscal cliff” negotiations are happening in the nation’s capital, a lesser known issue is also on the table. And depending on the outcome, thousands of jobs in Missouri could be at stake.

Gerald Nickelson is a worker at CG Power Systems in Washington, Missouri. As he walks around the factory, he points out a line of workers in front of a machine, wrapping coil. Later, the coil will be housed inside a green metal tank and shipped off as a complete transformer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 26, 2012 - William Pickard believes in long-range planning — at least 70 years into the future.  He foresees the economic end to earth’s fossil fuel supply before the close of this century and hopes to promote a smooth transition to an energy future fueled by renewables. But he is wary of what has been called the Achilles’ heel of renewable energy: intermittency.

Appeals Court Upholds Mo. Renewable Energy Rules

Nov 20, 2012
Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

A state appeals court has upheld regulations implementing Missouri’s renewable energy standard.

Kevin Gunn chairs the Missouri Public Service Commission, the state regulatory agency that developed the regulations (4 CSR 240-20.100).

Ameren Missouri plans to boost energy efficiency

Jan 20, 2012
(via Flickr/lobo235)

Updated 5:42 p.m. with comment from Ameren.

Ameren Missouri is pledging to increase its energy efficiency programs starting in 2013.

The company's filing today with the Public Service Commission would represent a complete change of course for Ameren, which had cut its energy efficiency programs from $33 million in 2011 down to as low as $5 million this year.

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