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Advocates: Long Way Still to Go in Clean Energy Transition

Clean air advocates say Ameren, one of Missouri's biggest utilities, needs more of a focus on clean energy. (Environmental Law and Policy Center)
Clean air advocates say Ameren, one of Missouri's biggest utilities, needs more of a focus on clean energy. (Environmental Law and Policy Center)
July 26, 2016

ST. LOUIS - One of Missouri's biggest utilities is putting a lot of money into a fund that can be used to help clean up the air around St. Louis. It's part of a settlement between Ameren Missouri and the Sierra Club that will require the energy company to establish a $2 million fund for environmentally beneficial projects. Specifically, Ameren must hand over at least $1 million for clean electric buses.

Andy Knott, senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said Ameren is lagging behind other utilities in the state when it comes to ending its reliance on coal.

"They're currently only at 1 percent wind and solar and other utilities in the region are much farther ahead including Kansas City Power and Light, which is at about 22 percent," he said.

The settlement resolves legal action taken by the Sierra Club in 2014 to address Ameren's nearly 8,000 alleged violations of it's federal Clean Air Act permit at the Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island coal-fired power plants between 2009 and 2013.

The settlement money can also be used for community solar projects. But primarily its focus will be on cleaning up polluted air.

"There's a lot of public concern around the St. Louis region about air pollution," he added. "We've had more than 40 bad air alert days already this spring and summer, so there are many ways that groups like the Sierra Club or the public can have an impact on cleaning up the air."

Knott said Ameren needs to embrace clean energy, step up investments in wind, solar and efficiency, and become a leader in Missouri and the Midwest by committing to reach 50 percent clean energy by 2030, with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO