07/05/11
Michael Berg

Missouri Sierra Club Clean Energy Jobs Tour in Franklin County

On Thursday June 30th, 75 Sierra Club members and supporters toured the CG Power Systems plant in Washington, MO; CG Power Systems makes transformers that are used in wind generators and solar collectors. The goal of the tour was to see firsthand that renewable energy can create good, family-wage jobs here in Missouri. CG Power Systems employs about 480 workers at its facilities in Washington, MO.

The Sierra Club organized this tour in response to action by the Missouri General Assembly which curtailed the development of renewable energy in our state. During the 2011 session, the General Assembly overturned a Public Service Commission rule that would have required utilities such as Ameren to meet its 15 percent renewable energy standard (mandated under Proposition C that was passed in November 2008) by counting electricity that was either generated or consumed here in Missouri. By nullifying this rule, the General Assembly is allowing utilities to buy renewable energy credits from anywhere in the world in order to meet its renewable energy targets. When the wind generators are located in China instead of here, the Missourians do not enjoy the benefits of clean energy – including both local jobs as well as cleaner air.

Before touring the transformer plant, the Sierra Club members went to the proposed site of a toxic coal ash disposal pit next to Ameren’s Labadie power plant. The site is in the floodplain of the Missouri River. Leaders from the Labadie Environmental Organization pointed out the proposed location, which is currently being used to grow corn. Eighteen years ago, during the great flood of 1993, this photograph shows the entire area of the proposed coal ash pit underwater.

If the coal ash pit is allowed to be built, it will threaten the health of Labadie residents as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who live downstream from the plant in St. Louis county and St. Louis City. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are what we need to reduce our state's dangerous dependency on burning coal. CG Power Systems is part of the clean energy economy that we need for the future of Missouri.

“Today, we were able to see, with our own eyes, the potential for renewable energy to create good jobs right here in Missouri,” said John Hickey, Missouri Chapter Director for the Sierra Club. “Now, Sierra Club members will roll up our sleeves and redouble our efforts to expand the development of wind and solar energy in Missouri.”