JCRC supports passage of Missouri Clean Energy Initiative

BY SYDELL SHAYER

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) supports Proposition C, the Clean Energy Initiative, and hopes that you will too at the polls on Nov. 4th.

Proposition C will amend Missouri law to require investor-owned utilities to gradually generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower by 2021. It is enforceable and has penalties for non-compliance.

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It is appropriate for the JCRC to support Prop C. Environmental concerns are a Jewish Issue. Our tradition teaches us that it is our responsibility to provide for future generations and that we must tend to the Earth.

This amendment is good for public health and the environment, will aid in energy security, protects consumers from high energy costs and will benefit the economy by creating new jobs.

The environmental movement has been around for many years, gaining broader popular support in the last decade. However, this current energy initiative is not coming from the legislature even though it will be amending a law. It took around 400 volunteers and 163,000 signatures on petitions from six of Missouri’s congressional districts to qualify for placement on the ballot. And it will take a majority of the voters statewide to pass this amendment.

In Missouri, about 86 percent of electricity comes from coal imported from other states. Nationally, the percentage is 50. Coal is known to contribute to climate change and the particulate matter and leaching from coal plants are linked to several health problems.

Missouri has the capacity to utilize renewable energy sources. Currently less than 0.01 percent of Missouri’s electricity comes from wind power. Our state ranks 20th in the nation in terms of wind potential. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has already identified where the pockets of high-speed wind are throughout the state.

As far as sun goes, Missouri averages 5 hours of sun a day, making solar energy a realistic energy option for our state. At the present time, the state gets between 1 and 2 percent of its energy from hydroelectric dams.

To round out our current energy situation, Missouri gets 4 percent of its energy from natural gas and 9 percent from nuclear energy. This amendment does not address nuclear energy which may continue to remain a part of the energy mix.

Twenty-four other states have a similar energy mandate and utility bills have not shown a noticeable change. There is a provision in the Missouri initiative which limits any retail rate increase to no more than 1 percent.

Proposition C will create manufacturing and construction jobs in Missouri because it will require investment in new technology and clean energy like solar and wind. According to experts, wind and solar energy will be among the sources of new manufacturing jobs in the 21st Century.

Missouri’s investor owned utilities are Ameren, Kansas City Power and Light, Aquila, and Empire. Kansas City Power and Light supports this amendment. None of the other utilities have objected. There is a broad based coalition working to get Proposition C passed. Among them are: The League of Women Voters of Missouri, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Republicans for Environmental Protection, Union of Concerned Citizens, United Steelworkers- District 11, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club.

Below is the exact wording of Proposition C as it will appear on the ballot. Read it carefully. You will see that change is gradual. The goal will be reached incrementally by 2021 and all Missourians will be the beneficiaries.

Official ballot wording of Proposition C

“Shall Missouri law be amended to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower with the renewable energy sources equaling at least 2 percent of retail sales by 2911 increasing incrementally to at least 15 percent by 2021, including at lest 2 percent from solar energy; and restricting to no more than 1 percent any rate increase to consumers for this renewable energy. The estimated direct cost to state governmental entities is $395,183. It is estimated there are no direct costs or savings to local governmental entities. However, indirect costs may be incurred by state and local governmental entities if the proposal results in increased electricity retail rates.”

To conclude, the JCRC supports Proposition C because it is good for public health and the environment and could lead to increased energy independence (by encouraging investment in sources other than fossil fuels). It protects consumers from high energy costs because of its 1 percent cap on rates. It will create jobs and is good for the economy. It has wide support in the community.

Please vote YES on Proposition C on Nov. 4.

Sydell Shayer is a Vice-President of the JCRC and Chair of its Advocacy Committee.