Renewable energy panel talks wind farm project

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to correct information previously reported and later said to be inaccurate.

A renewable energy panel met at Take Root Cafe April 25 during Earth Week. The event was co-sponsored by NEMO Sierra Club and NEMO Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The panel members introduced themselves and talked about the innovations in solar and wind energy for 40 minutes, and then had a 50-minute Q&A session. The audience was made up of residence, Truman State University faculty and staff, and students.

Christine Harker, environmental studies chair and NEMO Citizens’ Climate Lobby member, introduced the panel.

There were four panelists: Ajay Arora, vice president of power operations and energy management for Ameren, Paul McKnight, CEO of EFS Energy, Henry Robertson, Great Rivers Environmental Law center climate and energy program director, and Mark Casper, vice president of environmental affairs for Terra-Gen LLC.

Casper answered questions about the High Prairie Wind Farm Project, an effort to build the state’s largest wind farm in Adair and Schuyler counties.

Questions were asked about how the High Prairie Wind Farm Project would affect waterfowl migration and the local economy. Casper said the project pays special attention to wildlife in the area, and they are unsure about the impact the project will have on the local economy.

Casper said the first wind turbines will go up in the third or fourth quarter of next year.

Harker asked the panel to talk about the innovations in renewable energy, how important renewable energy is and how to persuade corporations to move to renewable energy. McKnight mentioned that the job of solar installer is the fastest growing job in Missouri.

During the Q&A part of the event, the panel answered questions about renewable energy innovations, how to get companies to go renewable, electric cars, carbon pricing and the panel’s opinion on other forms of renewable energy, like algae and hydropower.

McKnight also addressed a question about the lifespan of solar panels and their effect on landfill waste. He said solar panels have a lifespan of about 20-30 years, and the industry is working on a way to effectively recycle old panels.