With solar’s defeat, Iola council owes us a vision for the future



June 13, 2019 - 10:19 AM

Iola council members closed the door Monday night on partnering with Westar Energy to build a solar power plant here. With that chapter in the books, the council now owes citizens the next act: their alternative vision for the city’s energy portfolio. It’s not enough to vote something down. Leaders provide their constituents with a clear path forward.

Across the country, cities are committing to incorporating green energy. In Kansas, the smaller communities of Pratt, Baldwin City and Hillsboro, have all signed on to solar projects. At Chanute’s city commission meeting Monday, members, who are considering a similar solar project to the one proposed to Iola, noted Ash Grove Cement — a big user of electricity — would be willing to make up the difference of an initial higher rate for consumers if the city brought the Westar project online.

Increasingly, industries expect communities to include green energy in order to claim renewable energy credits proving they are working toward the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which mandates industries diversify their energy consumption. To no executive’s surprise, consumers also place a higher value on goods produced with renewable energy. Younger people, especially, want to live in communities that are good stewards of the environment.

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