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Metropolitan Housing Coalition Metropolitan Housing Coalition

"At a time when the price of energy continues to rise, affording to keep homes warm becomes an issue that unites a broad range of families, but the burden is disproportionately devastating to low-income residents. MHC is dedicated to ensuring safe, fair and affordable housing choices for all residents, which includes utility costs."


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Jan 31, 2010

Council to develop a climate action plan for Kentucky

by Lisa Abbott — last modified Jan 31, 2010 11:00 AM

Here's the clip from Mead's article:


"The (Ky Climate Action Plan) council includes Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry (who sent a representative in his place Thursday), and state and federal officials. It also includes people from the coal, aluminum, lumber and automobile industries, and two or three people who could be identified as environmentalists. That didn't escape Tona Barkley, a member of the Frankfort Climate Action Network, who sat through the 51/2-hour meeting to speak during a public comment period at the end. She said that the council was a great idea but added that she would like to see more environmentalists on it."

The Council's task is to "Identify opportunities for Kentucky to respond to the challenge of global climate change while becoming more energy efficient, more energy independent and spurring economic growth." The group's work will be supported by a consulting organization called the Center for Climate Strategies. According to materials prepared by CCS:

  • From 1990 to 2005, Kentucky's emissions increased at double the national rate.
  • Kentucky emissions rose 33 percent during the period; nationwide, emissions rose 16 percent.

The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development is the only member group of the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance to have a representative appointed to the 32 member Council.

The formation of the Council was discussed on a recent KySEA conference call. Several individuals and groups are planning to circulate a letter urging the expansion of the Council to include additional representation, including from affordable housing groups, environmental organizations, and local climate action planning groups.

Messaging that works on climate and energy

by Lisa Abbott — last modified Jan 31, 2010 12:45 PM


Here's one story about strategic messaging that everyone concerned with advancing good energy policies should read. Or, as KySEA participant Tona Barkley said last week, "We should tattoo this information on our wrists!"


Frank Luntz, a well-known Republican pollster who designed communications strategies to defeat environmental initiatives in the 1990's, recently issued a report about messages that resonate with Americans about climate change and energy policies. Here are the punch lines:


  • A substantial majority of Americans (including majorities in both major parties) accept the reality of climate change and want to make progress in addressing it.
  • What the public wants are "forward looking, no-regrets solutions."
  • The focus of messaging should be on the benefits of taking action.
  • The four benefits the public values most are: energy independence, good health, American jobs, and accountability for businesses and corporations.


The final slide in Luntz's report proposes that people begin using the following basic messages:


If we do it right, we get cleaner air.   

We get less dependence on fossil fuels and enhanced national security.

We get more innovation in our economy.
More jobs, and more sustainable jobs.
And that’s if the scientists are wrong.
If the scientists are right, we get all of those things, and begin to solve what could be the most catastrophic environmental problem that any of us have ever faced.
That’s a pretty good bet to make -- because it’s a ‘No Regrets’ strategy.

It doesn’t mean it’s easy. But it means if we do it, and do it right, we get all of those benefits out of this policy approach. We think that’s why it’s the right thing to do.


What do you think?

Kentucky Power to raise rates by 35%

by Lisa Abbott — last modified Jan 31, 2010 11:25 AM

AEP logoA number of Eastern Kentucky residents, businesses and elected officials are voicing concern over Kentucky Power’s recent request to raise rates by 35%.  Kentucky Power is part of American Electric Power and serves 175,000 customers across 20 eastern Kentucky counties.

Louisa Mayor Teddy Preston was quoted in the Ashland Daily Independent as saying, “It’s the wrong time. People can barely make it on Social Security. I can understand a smaller rate hike, but not 35 percent.” The mayor also stated on local radio programs that the impact on the city’s budget would be significant, since the community’s water and sewer plant, along with other properties, currently use about $10,000 in electricity each month.

If approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, the bill for an average Kentucky Power residential customer would rise from the current price of $114.57 to $154.62. This is based on a monthly usage of about 1,400 kilowatt-hours.

Kentucky Power’s rate request is similar to rate hikes that the parent company AEP has requested in neighboring states. In August of 2008, AEP explained that it was seeking a 45% rate increase for its Ohio customers to cover sharply rising coal prices. “The fact is that coal has doubled in cost in the last year alone, dramatically affecting AEP Ohio’s costs,” an AEP executive said in a statement at the time.

The recent move by Kentucky Power is part of an overall trend among electric utilities in Kentucky, which together produce about 92% of their power by burning coal. Historically, coal has been relatively inexpensive fuel, giving Kentucky an economic advantage. But Kentucky’s residential, commercial and industrial customers are now seeing their utility bills rise due to many factors, including the increasing costs of purchasing fuel, building new power plants, and managing coal’s environmental impacts.

A 2008 USA Today article discussed how these factors were causing utility prices in West Virginia and Kentucky to rise faster than the national average. Industry analysts were quoted in the article saying that residents of coal-dependent states should expect additional rate increases even before the passage of expected carbon regulations. The article closed with a quote from an American Electric Power executive, who stated, “There not a whole lot of reason why the prices would start to temper.”

These trends are an important reason why the member groups of the KY Sustainable Energy Alliance are working to diversify Kentucky's energy portfolio and increase investment in energy efficiency programs. It is time to ramp up efficiency efforts that are already proving successful in other states to help residents and businesses save energy and money.

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