Columbia’s Climate and Environment Commission to discuss renewable energy efforts


Columbia Water and Light fell short of its renewable energy goal in 2023 and is scheduled to discuss its efforts at the city’s Climate and Environment Commission Meeting on Tuesday night.

A January draft of the city’s renewable energy plan for 2024 shows the City had 21.84% renewable energy in 2023. This is slightly down from its goal of 25% for the year.

The city’s website shows its next goal is 30% renewable energy by 2029.

The 2024 draft said Columbia Water and Light is “evaluating the future expansion of renewables on our grid.” It said the advisory board is looking at the current renewable energy ordinance with a goal of increasing renewable energy in a “responsible” way based on information from a study done by The Energy Authority.

That study, published in November, said incremental renewable goals are better than setting one single goal for a certain year due to changing prices over time, showing the cost of both solar and wind energy are expected to decrease in the early 2030s.

It looked at five possible cases to get the city to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Most of the scenarios involve heavy investments in wind and solar power during the late 2020s-early 2030s. Some scenarios in the study involve continuing with the city’s coal and natural resources while others involve doing away with them. There are also options to buy Renewable Energy Credits or RECs.

The 2024 draft estimates more than 20% of the City’s electricity in 2024 will come from already existing renewable resources. It will use sources including wind, solar and landfill gas. It lays out planned additions to the City’s renewable energy sources, which includes work beginning on a Columbia Landfill gas expansion in 2024. Water and Light expects to have that operational by this summer.

It states the impact of renewable resources on rates in 2023 compared to non-renewable resources was more than $1.6 million. The city’s ordinance ensures the cost of renewable energy can’t increase electric rates by more than 3% from the rates of all non-renewable resources.

However, the 2024 draft said renewable energy prices were down about $5 million in 2023 compared to prices in 2022.

Water and Light applied a Power Cost Adjustment in October reflective of the cost changes in the energy market.

Columbia first approved a renewable energy ordinance back in 2004, requiring Columbia Water and Light to increase its purchasing of energy from renewable resources. Data shows 2023’s renewable energy percentage is up more than seven percent from 2021 when 14.63% of the city’s energy was renewable.

Tuesday’s meeting is taking place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. After the Water and Light Advisory Board and the Environment and Energy Commission review the 2024 draft, it will then go to the city council, according to the city’s website.

Check back for updates.

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