Group discusses goals and mission statement

The solar energy group met on Thursday evening at the Barista. Goals and mission statement were discussed. The Jan 17 meeting produced a mission statement, but it was not voted on at that meeting. These are the results of that meeting, which were not available for Thursday night’s meeting: Name: Renewable La Junta Mission Statement: Renewable La Junta supports education and policies that will increase use of renewables in our community. Vision Statement: Renewable La Junta's goal is that La Junta will run 100% on renewables by 2035.

A lengthy discussion brought out some interesting highlights and individual perceptions. Beverly Babb would like to see the new nursing home completely solar. Lynn Horner talked about the nursing home he and the other committee members had seen, which was on a cottage concept. David Cockrell presented a series of goals which he and Kerry Appel had worked out, which address three major issues: 1. compassion for people in poverty, 2. business competitiveness, and 3. renewable energy. A former mayor, Horner said the economic director when he was mayor told him a major turn-off for new businesses was our high utility rates.

Horner went on to say we have to honor our debt and pay it off, but in 2024 when it is paid off, we should talk to the Arkansas River Power Authority about embracing more solar and wind power. Several people said, “We are behind the curve.” The consensus was that the future has to be in renewable energy.

Gary Cranson explained how solar energy is incorporated with the electricity from the city. The method used now is two meters synchronized. The discussion is ongoing whether the private citizen is responsible for paying for the extra meter. During the day when the solar energy is working, it is used before pulling other energy from the grid, so there is an intrinsic saving to the customer. Cranson has been monitoring Beverly Babb’s installed solar energy closely to determine exactly what is happening. The solar energy group favors net metering, which would mean the solar customer would be paid at the end of the year or by the month for the power supplied to the grid. This payment in other communities which have net metering is five cents a kilowatt hour, which is the wholesale price. The retail price involves the infrastructure as well as the transmission costs to ARPA, and is usually about 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt hour, said Cranson.

The group came together in recognizing education as a primary goal. Jim Herrell said, “Without a definition of terms, ignorance persists.” Tom Hibbs reiterated he has studied surrounding communities and has information available about their working out of the practical details of net metering.

The group will meet again at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of March, March 14, at the Barista. Everyone is welcome to come and be part of the discussion.