Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told a crowd at the “Energy, Efficiency and the Environment” workshop to keep up their efforts on finding alternative energy sources.
For Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, Missouri is poised to become a leader in renewable energy.
The state’s lieutenant governor spoke to about 140 people this morning at the all-day “Energy, Efficiency and the Environment” conference at Crowder College.
Kinder kicked off the workshop by praising Crowder for its past work in the renewable energy field. He said that while renewable energy is now familiar to most Americans, with the development of hybrid cars, bio-fuels, wind power and solar energy panels, there’s more to come.
“I believe we are witnessing a new era in the age of energy production in our state and across the country,” Kinder said.
Missouri sits in a unique position to help lead the nation in the renewable energy field, Kinder said, and the state is aggressively building its bio-fuels market, particularly in the area of ethanol and bio-diesel.
He said those in government must keep their eyes and minds open to new ideas.
“The world has embraced renewable energy and seems to be doing so more each day, so this is the future,” he said. “The benefits are plenty — a cleaner environment, economic growth and jobs and local energy production from reliable sources, not true of many of our sources of foreign oil. The advantages are real and the technology is here and emerging.”
Citing U.S. Department of Energy figures, Kinder said only about 18 percent of the nation’s energy is powered by hydro, nuclear and alternative sources such as solar and wind. However, the current political and social climate will likely hamper further development of hydro and nuclear generation, leaving wind and solar energies to pick up the slack.
“I would urge you — plead with you — to continue your pioneering work and redouble your efforts in renewable energy,” Kinder said.
He also sent out a blanket call for Missouri citizens to work with a “new voice and see energy problems with new eyes.” Kinder urged an end to what he said has been a “political blame game” and advised that problems and initiatives be seen as an opportunity to help generations to follow.
Also speaking this morning was Anita Randolph, director of the Missouri Energy Center in Jefferson City and under the Department of Natural Resources.
Randolph likened the general electrical system to a rubber band being stretched tighter and tighter. The demand of energy is going up at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 percent annually, she said. If other sources of energy aren’t found, the rubber band could break, Randolph warned, as energy systems aren’t able to keep up. And building new power plants is expensive.
That’s why, she said, the state is trying to develop more opportunities to cultivate renewable energy resources. Currently, these resources only make up 2 percent of Missouri’s power supply.
Randolph touched briefly on the state’s Green Power Initiative that went into effect this year requiring utility companies to make a “good faith effort” to incrementally implement renewable energy or energy-efficient sources at a rate of four percent by the year 2012, eight percent by 2015 and 11 percent by 2020.
The Green Power Initiative established a net metering system, Randolph noted, in that citizens who use alterative energy sources to help light and operate their home will receive power credits for generating their own electricity. To this end, the outside power meter will run backward and forward at the same speed.
“For anyone who wants to generate their own electricity, it changes the economic balance a little bit for you in a positive way,” Randolph said.
The Initiative also streamlines and simplifies the process of connecting home alternative energy systems to the utility grid, she added.
Although the green power legislation is technically already in effect, Randolph said the state Public Service Commission will spend the next six to eight months hammering out the details of how it will be put into effect.
“I truly believe that communities, citizens coming together, is a very, very important place for us to start, and will probably have such a great deal to do with advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy as part of our energy mix in our energy future,” Randolph said.