Missouri’s renewable energy goals: Are answers blowing in the wind?

Jacob2In 2008, Missouri voters approved a ballot measure to require the state accelerate its efforts to adopt renewable energy sources. The measure means that Missouri’s investorowned utilities must get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

Two hydroelectric power plants and the expansion of solar power will help Missouri’s utilities meet those goals. But to make it to 15 percent, utilities are also looking to the skies.

Missouri currently has 459 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, according to the US Department of Energy. That ranks Missouri 24th in the nation for wind generation, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Missouri’s wind generation stats are certain to grow as Ameren Missouri’s new 20-year plan calls for the development of 400 additional megawatts of wind capacity in the state.

Wind proponents see the potential for much more. Missouri’s wind production is well below many neighboring states, indicating there is room for significant growth. Illinois, for example, has 3,568 MW of capacity. Oklahoma’s wind turbines can generate up to 3,782 MW.

Looking at Missouri’s wind patterns, especially those in northern and western Missouri, wind proponents see promising signs for growth. They also say further development of Missouri’s wind resources could bolster manufacturing.

“Missouri’s proximity to important wind energy areas, combined with manufacturing expertise, could make Missouri a manufacturing powerhouse for the wind industry,” according to the American Wind Energy Association.

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