The city of Columbia is predicting the amount of energy it gets from renewable resources will reduce from an estimated 8 percent last year to about 6 percent by theof this year – a decrease mostly attributed to a change in the amount of wind energy the city uses.
Despite the decrease, the level of renewable energy resources at 6 percent would still exceed the amount required by the city’s voter- approved renewable energy mandate.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be higher than that, but we don’t want to overpromise,” said Connie Kacprowicz, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Water and Light Department.
The decrease comes mostly from a reconfiguration of the amount of wind energy it buys from the Crystal Lake III Wind Energy Center in Hancock County, Iowa, according to a draft of the 2013 renewable energy report. Early last year, the city brokered a 20-year contract with Nextera Energy Resources LLC, which operates the wind farm, to receive 21 megawatts of energy.
The report said that in the first half of last year, the wind farm had delivered more energy to the city than it had expected, pulling energy from the entire wind farm.
Kacprowicz said that since then, a meter has been installed to make sure the city of Columbia doesn’t receive more energy than is specified in its contract with the wind farm.
Last year, the report said, the wind farm provided about 36,000 megawatt hours to the city, and this year it is expected to provide about 17,000.
Kacprowicz said, though, that the city hopes to increase the share of renewable energy in its portfolio with a third generator at the Columbia Landfill Gas Energy Plant, and the renewable energy report said there would be room for a fourth generator.
In addition, the city expects the Omaha, Neb.-based Free Power Co., which has installed solar panels at the city’s COLT Transload Facility at 6501 N. Brown Station Road, to install panels at other sites in the city, and Water and Light has requested that the city set aside $500,000 over the next two years for capital projects related to the installation of new solar panels.
The city’s renewable energy mandate was approved in 2004. The city is required to have 5 percent of its energy portfolio come from renewable resources until 2017, when the requirement increases to 10 percent.
The city prioritizes affordability when seeking renewable sources of energy, Kacprowicz said.
The renewable energy mandate requires that the purchase of renewable sources does not increase customers’ bills by more than 3 percent above what rates would be without renewable energy.
“We don’t want to buy expensive energy where we can buy it cheaper somewhere else,” Kacprowicz said.
A public hearing on the report will take place during the May 6 regular meeting of the Columbia City Council.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding