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Developers bring more alternative energy, jobs to Missouri

Developers bring more alternative energy, jobs to Missouri (By Catherine Wolf, KWMU)Missouri has plenty of room for expanding its use of alternative energy.

The state is second to last in the country for using renewables to generate

electricity, and more than 80% of its power comes from coal. Mark Templeton

directs the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He said Missouri is

well-positioned to reverse those numbers."Missouri has opportunity in wind. It has opportunity in solar. I think it

will have great opportunity in biomass. We need to be looking at all of

these."Missouri's wind farmsmight be the state's most visible source of renewable

energy. The state has three in its northwest corner, all owned by Wind

Capital Group. Company President Tom Carnahan said each generates enough

power for about 20,000 homes."Folks thought there wasn't any wind in Missouri, and that's what wind

developers thought. But as it turns out those winds from Kansas and

Nebraska and Iowa don't realize there's a state border there."At least two other companies are planning to compete for a portion of

Missouri's wind business. Frank Costanza is the vice president of

Kansas-based TradeWind Energy. He said the company decided to build here

because Missouri is ranked the 20th windiest state."What drives all development of wind projects is the quality of the wind.

The higher the quality of the wind, the harder and more consistently it

blows, the lower the energy prices that we can deliver our energy to the

grid."turbineWith one powerful river boarding Missouri on the east and another

running through it, energy developers are also investing in hydropower.

Free Flow Power of out Massachusetts wants to install underwater turbines

(pictured) along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Project Development

Director John Guidroz said steady currents could provide enough energy to

power up to one million homes each year."It's dipatchable, it's baseload. The river flows 24 hours a day. There are

certainly seasonal variations but the upside of that is it's very

predictable."Free Flow is still researching its river projects and will probably have to

wait several years for final federal approval.While some renewable energies are still being developed, others like solar

power already have a foothold in Missouri. Dane Glueck is the president of

Missouri Solar Living. The company helps homeowners and businesses buy

solar panels and get permits to install them. Glueck said Missouri's solar

future is promising because the state gets almost as much sun as Miami on a

yearly basis."We actually get 92 percent of the useful sun energy Miami receives, so we

certainly have more cloudy days but even on cloudy days we get solar energy

that can be translated into usable energy here."Solar power hasn't been developed on a large scale in Missouri. Glueck said

that's because fitting an average single-family home with panels runs

around $16,000, which can be cost prohibitive for many. Glueck said

extended tax credits, higher electric rates and concerns about climate

change will stimulate more solar development in Missouri."This year and over this next 12 months is probably the turning point. And

I think that's especially true for Missouri. The potential is huge here

because it's not been something that's had a great awareness up until this

past year or two."Farmers are also banking on the future of renewables. The Show Me Energy

Cooperative in Centerview, near Missouri's western border, began

manufacturing biopellets (pictured) made from materials like switchgrass

and corn stalks last year. It plans to sell the pellets to utilities, which

will burn them with coal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Kansas City

Power and Light is test burning the pellets at its Sibley power plant, with

what CEO Michael Chesser said are good results."We couldn't convert the whole plant at this stage, but if we continue to

develop the technology and reduce t