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Conference brings renewable energy experts to Columbia

Kirk Kittell

Renewable energy was the topic of a conference on the MU campus today. About 180 people from around the Midwest gathered to hear from experts on the future of wind, biomass and solar energy in the region.

The seventh annual Advancing Renewables in the Midwest conference conference featured 21 speakers. Event organizer P.J. Wilson sought both local and national experts to present on the latest from the industry.

“Speakers that can come in and say, okay, what’s going on with renewable energy and energy efficiency, both with policy and technology, and what do we need to know now.”

Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson was the first speaker Wilson and his fellow event organizers booked for the conference. Jacobson said it is feasible for Americans in the near future to rely solely on renewable resources for all of their energy needs.

“It can be done at low cost, as well. It just that we all have to put our minds to doing it and decide… decide to do it and to overcome the lobbying of those who want to maintain the current energy infrastructure.”

Jacobson co-authored a recent article detailing how Americans can convert to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

Sidney Jackson, with Midwest Independent System Operator, spoke on integrating renewables into the power grid. He said the conference helped increase engagement on renewable energy issues. 

“I think anytime we’re talking and anytime we’re communicating and anytime we’re presenting where we are on specific issues, I think conferences like this, renewable conferences, are a good way to begin the discussion.”  

Conference attendees came from the utilities and renewable energy sectors, as well as advocacy groups.

Harum Helmy started as KBIA's Health and Wealth reporter in January 2013. She has previously worked at the station as a news assistant, helping assign and edit stories by student reporters. Harum grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and graduated from MU with degrees in journalism and anthropology in 2011. She's trying to finish up an MA in journalism.