Few states are as dependent upon coal as Missouri. While coal’s national share has fallen to around 30% total U.S. electricity generation, Missouri’s coal plants produced enough power to meet 78% of the state’s demand in 2016.
And yet in Missouri’s largest metro area, the city that hosts the headquarters of Peabody Energy and Arch Coal has made a bold commitment to move to 100% renewable energy. Last Friday St. Louis’ Board of Alderman voted to approve a measure to move the city’s electricity supply entirely to wind and solar by 2035.
While white flight and deindustrialization has hollowed out St. Louis to only 311,000 residents, according to Sierra Club it is still the largest city in the Midwest to make a 100% renewable energy commitment, and nationally there are only a few larger cities to do so.
The real work of how to get there will now begin. The exact language of the resolution states that the city will commit to clean energy in the form of “wind, solar and energy efficiency measures within the electric sector” by 2035, which means that some forms of demand reduction will be included.
It also calls for a “transparent and inclusive stakeholder process” to develop a plan by December 2018, which will include representatives from labor, faith, environmental justice and frontline communities as well as other relevant groups including the utility sector.
Sierra Club has been promoting 100% renewable energy at the municipal level and lauded the vote. “St. Louis’ commitment to 100 percent clean energy sends a powerful signal: even in communities with long ties to coal, the benefits of clean energy are too great to ignore,” stated Sierra Club Missouri Organizing Manager Sara Edgar.
“Wind and solar can create jobs, lower electric bills, and give the people of St. Louis a better alternative to the highly polluting coal power which currently makes up the bulk of Ameren’s generation.”