Sunday, March 22, 2009

Water and Light begins selling solar energy

Missouri Solar Applications Chief Executive Officer Vaughn X. Prost in front of Columbia’s first solar panel on Bernadette Drive. The recently installed panel will allow Columbia residents to receive solar energy for an extra $4 a month on their energy bill. ¦ JAMES OSTLER

BY Aaron Dohogne

For almost two weeks, solar energy has been sold by Columbia Water and Light to its electric customers willing to buy it at $48 yearly subscriptions. The city is selling solar-generated electricity to 32 households and about 125 additional households are on a waiting list.
Two solar collectors have been constructed in the city. One, located on city property off Bernadette Drive and Tiger Lane is generating electricity. Quaker Oats on Route B has also installed a solar collector on its roof, and hopes to begin producing electricity in five to seven days, said Ray Magruder, the health, safety and environmental manager at Quaker Oats.
The solar collectors are the result of a program, called Solar One, developed between Columbia and private businesses. The goals of the program are to help the city produce renewable energy, and by 2023, for 1 percent of Columbia’s electricity to be provided by solar energy, according to the Solar One Web site.

Every year, the city has planned to receive 70 100-kilowatt hour blocks from the Bernadette solar collector and the Quaker Oats solar collector, but some customers are buying more than one block, said Connie Kacprowicz, spokeswoman for Columbia Water and Light.

So far, the city has sold 51 of the 70 blocks available from the Bernadette station. The collector at Quaker Oats is expected to provide an additional 70 blocks.

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