The Missouri Energy Task Force, a blue-ribbon panel appointed last December by Gov. Matt Blunt, on Thursday recommended the state adopt a “common-sense approach” to meeting the increasing energy demands within the state. Among other things, the panel recommended diversifying energy sources to include wind-and ethanol-based fuels, as well as increasing conservation efforts to keep energy costs affordable.
Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman Jeff Davis, who headed the task force, said that using alternative energy sources would help meet new demands and reduce the state’s over-dependence on fossil fuels.
“Ninety percent of our energy is generated through fossil fuels — largely coal and natural gas,” said Davis. “If we are able to increase our use of renewable and alternative fuel sources — while encouraging energy conservation — we can help meet this demand and reduce our dependence on a single source of energy.”
According to research compiled by the panel, Missouri’s dependence on fossil fuels comes at a price: more than $2,000 per citizen in the state every year. At the same time, it noted that natural gas prices have doubled in the past seven years and gasoline prices have doubled in the last three years.
“The impact of increasing energy prices on consumers is felt throughout our economy,” Davis said. “Yet by increasing the use of alternative fuels, such as wind- and ethanol-based fuels, we can diversify our energy sources and expand markets for renewable energy sources, such as renewable [agricultral]-based fuels.”
Expanded conservation efforts also will be essential to helping contain a dramatic increase in the demand for generated power, the panel noted.
“The base demand for electricity in Missouri is growing at a rate of 250 MW each year, and it isn’t practical to build a new plant equal to the Callaway nuclear reactor every four to six years,” said Davis. “Conservation is an essential part of a common-sense approach to meeting Missouri’s future energy needs.”
The state currently relies on a complex system of energy sources to generate various types of energy used in homes and businesses. Current systems have maintained energy costs much lower than surrounding states, but the panel noted that the systems are near capacity and will exceed generating capabilities unless new sources are developed. The report also recommended using state and federal programs to help those in need, and it suggested more weatherization efforts for those who need utility assistance.
To read the task force report, visit www.psc.mo.gov/energytaskforce.asp.
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