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A Proposal for Advancing Columbia's (MO) Energy Future


The Social Cost of burning Carbon:

$36 per metric ton of Carbon Dioxide Released to the Atmosphere



John T. O’Connor, H2O’C Engineering, LLC, Columbia, MO


It was little noted, but on August 8, 2016, the Chicago-based 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the U. S. Department of Energy’s policy of including the social cost of carbon at $36 per metric ton when calculating cost-benefit analyses. ( hange-accounting.) This court ruling is newsworthy because it permits federal agencies to quantify, rather than ignore, the external costs of climate change.

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An Editorial Assessment:

A Decade of ‘No Growth’ in Energy and Water Use is Good News for Columbia’s Economy


Tom O’Connor and John T. O’Connor, H2O’C Engineering, LLC, Columbia, MO


As it has for the nation as a whole, Columbia’s electrical usage has remained flat for the past decade. Even with a steadily growing population, Columbia’s per capita consumption declined from 32 kWh/d in 2006 to 27 kWh/d in 2015. This remarkable achievement may be a by-product of the adoption of new technology as well as community efforts to conserve and utilize electrical energy more efficiently.


If we can continue to use our resources more wisely, and thereby minimize the frequency of multi-million dollar utility system capacity expansions, Columbians will be richer for it in the long run.

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To encourage the adoption of renewable energy resources nationwide, the U.S. government has reauthorized (though 2019) the substantial (30%) tax credit to those homeowners installing solar energy systems. In addition to that federal incentive, Columbia’s Water & Light Department (CW&L) offers a generous 50 cent per Watt rebate on solar installations. CW&L is the only electric utility in Missouri that offers such a rebate.


Considering these dual financial benefits, what might it cost a homeowner to install a typical 5,000 Watt (5 kW) residential solar system in Columbia Water and Light’s service area?