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"KySEA's mission fits perfectly with ours. We have been hoping that a statewide consortium would come together so that we can extend the impact of our local work." - Tona Barkley

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June

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Jun 30, 2010

Lewis County Affordable Housing Turns Green!

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 30, 2010 08:50 AM

People's Self Help Housing in Vanceburg, KY, is paving a green path for affordable housing in Kentucky. A highly energy efficient home that PSHH recently built and sold has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is only the third house in all of Kentucky to receive the certification.


Melissa Evans paid $90,000 for the home and, given that low utility and maintenance costs in the future are a guarantee, it will remain affordable for years to come. The LEED-certified home cost about $115,000 to build and the purchase cost was lower due to grant support for the efforts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.The home will use about 1/3 less energy than a standard house of it size.

A couple of years ago, on People's 25th anniversary, the board of directors decided that new houses had to be more energy efficient to offset rapidly increasing utility rates. Further, the organization believes that providing local jobs, further benefiting the local community, is the best way to do this work. Moving into green housing is a way to accomplish both of these objectives.

As Dave Kreher, PSHH executive director says, “we can provide jobs that will help people have affordable utility bills – the two can come together. Why have someone from Indiana come in and do this for us? We have a 28 year history of doing the work with local crews and these guys are as good as it gets. Let’s maximize the benefit for everyone. We have barely scratched the surface here. There is a lot to do.”

PSHH solar home

PSHH has built several highly energy efficient homes, including a couple like the one shown to the left that contain a solar hot water heater. Kreher and PSHH will remain committed going forward to this win-win situation, in large part because the community has such great needs for both affordability and jobs. Lewis County — which is in northeastern Kentucky and has a population of about 14,000 — is one of 43 counties in the state where poverty is considered persistent. In 2008, Vanceburg's median income was less than $21,000, or about half the state average. Electricity rates just rose by 26% recently. And county unemployment rate was near 18% at the start of this year.

Learn more about PSHH here.

Learn more about LEED certification here.



 

Jun 21, 2010

KySEA meeting a great success!

by Martin Richards — last modified Jun 21, 2010 06:29 PM
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The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance held a meeting June 1 at the Lexington Public Library’s Northside Branch. The meeting was open not only for KySEA members but included other organizations interested in supporting clean energy in Kentucky.

KySEA meeting

There was great turnout and lots of new faces at the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance June 1 meeting in Lexington. 40 people representing 28 different organizations, groups and businesses came together to learn about the Kentucky energy landscape, KySEA, each other and how to take the next steps of moving Kentucky to a clean energy future.

The goals for the meeting were to:

  • Continue to build relationships and understanding about our work  – independently and collectively.
  • Report and evaluate work on clean energy issues in the 2010 Gen. Assembly.
  • Inform/educate ourselves about one or more topics related to clean energy.
  • Review, improve and affirm a proposed action plan for remainder of 2010.
  • Identify ways for each group to participate

People left the meeting both exhausted and energized, “It was like drinking from a fire hose”, said Dick Watkins of Frankfort Climate Action Network, ”But the groups and the day was great

First in the morning was a six-month recap of the need for state clean energy policy, Kentucky’s energy challenge, and KySEA’s history, principals and policy priorities.

Following the “look-back” was a brief summary of energy policy and politics in the 2010 Legislative session and what KySEA’s goals and accomplishments were.

The morning ended with a round-robin set of education sessions on:

  • Using feed-in tariffs as a tool to drive renewable energy
  • Creating an Energy Efficiency Trust Fund

Renewable Portfolio Standards

The afternoon was spent planning KySEA’s work leading up to the 2011 General Assembly. Through small and large group discussions those attending fleshed out an outline, develop specific steps and create teams for accomplishing our plan.

Jun 16, 2010

Bid Opportunities for Energy Efficiency Work

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 16, 2010 01:51 PM

Community Action Kentucky has released a Request for Qualification (“RFQ”) to allow businesses and contractors interested in receiving some of this work to see if they are qualified for the contracts.  This is an opportunity to help customers save money on their utility bills, reduce our energy consumption, and create energy jobs.
 
There will be an information session regarding this RFQ on Monday, June 21, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort, KY.  All businesses and contractors with the ability to perform the services listed in the RFQ are encouraged to attend and bring their colleagues.  

 

Visit http://www.kaca.org/AboutCAK/BidOpportunities/tabid/611/Default.aspx for more information and to see qualification guidelines.

 

If you have any questions, please contact:
Roger McCann
 at CAK via telephone at 502-875-5863 or by email, RFQContractors@communityactionky.org.
 

Jun 08, 2010

Solar Pioneer in Kentucky

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 08, 2010 09:12 AM
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Richard Levine: Kentucky’s Own Solar Pioneer
By Laura Alex Frye-Levine (daughter)
 
Laura and DickAs a child, I stumbled upon a copy of a neatly typed letter my father had written to his scoutmaster after being awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. While others in his troupe were celebrating the capstone achievement of their adolescent lives, my father had written earnestly about his concern for the integrity of the honor. He wrote: “I am afraid of what might happen if scouts start pursuing points for the sake of earning points alone.” The scoutmaster likely laughed the letter off as naive, but as a young child it made an impression on me – and I’ve continued to think of it as a metric of whether I am pursuing the right things for the right reasons.
 
Over the next several decades, through a desert of institutional support, my father would go on to pursue a career as an architect and solar innovator. His tenacious, passionate approach to his life’s work has always been refreshingly unconcerned with most of the official metrics of success.  Like any activist, he has pursued his work for reasons ultimately much bigger than himself. Nevertheless, through an inspired career of vision and hard work, Richard Levine has given a great gift to society. Had he been more conventional in his goals for research and design, the field of solar energy would not have advanced as far as it has today. 
 
Last month, at it’s most attended annual meeting in history, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) honored my father with its most prestigious award in solar innovation: The Passive Solar Pioneer award. ASES cited him “For his lifelong dedication as a passive solar advocate, practitioner, theoretician and mentor and for his pioneering inspiration displayed on projects ranging from a house to a city.” As he took a bow in front of a crowd of 3,000 cheering people, waves of belated recognition sweeping over him, I was overwhelmed with the realization that his life’s work had not gone unnoticed! Like all true pioneers, Richard Levine never pursued his interests with the goal of receiving recognition, though recognition ultimately found him. 
 
Raven RunThe era of renewable energy is upon us. On a planetary scale, we are facing the incredible task of ending the cycles of our addiction to fossil fuels; falling short spells certain ecological demise. Though we all search for ways of leading healthier lives, we suffer from a general lack of coherent vision as to how to proceed forwards. In Kentucky in particular, the need to transition to economic and energy alternatives to Mountaintop Removal Coal mining is more pressing than ever. These days, many of us throw around words like “green” and “sustainable:” words that are repeated so often and in so many different contexts, that they have almost lost all meaning. Getting to the bottom of real solutions that work has been my father’s greatest challenge.
 
One of Richard’s primary contributions to a sustainable society has been to localize the idea of sustainability as a concrete balance-seeking process. Doing this has allowed him to consider a building as a system- employing intelligent design techniques as a first step in a holistic process. Through this approach, he has designed award-winning houses and cities. In 1978 he designed a double skinned office building in New York that required 12% of the energy of a conventional office building. His Raven Run House is Kentucky’s pioneering solar project. It was the first house to combine passive and active solar systems with super-insulation and an attached greenhouse.  Innovative in 1974, the house continues to be at the forefront of solar technology today and is still being published worldwide. 
 
Richard is currently working on several projects for zero-net-energy homes and businesses through his Center for Sustainable Cities Design Studio (www.cscdesignstudio.com).  He is principle author of the European Union’s Charter of Cities and Towns Towards Sustainability (Aalborg Charter), and won an international citation from the Royal Association of British Architects for his proposal designing a sustainable reclamation of a strip-mine site in Whitesburg.  In addition to Kentucky, he has designed sustainable cities for Korea, and Vienna. Upon presenting him with its Passive Solar Pioneer Award, ASES commended: “Work that in every way is an exemplar of the best that architecture has to offer our collective sustainability.” 

I look forward to a future that holds many more years of inspiration from Kentuckys own Solar Pioneer. Let's all work with him to bring a sustainable energy future to the commonwealth!

Jun 02, 2010

New Study Says Coal-Free Future Possible (without a price on carbon)

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 02, 2010 07:44 AM

By Carrie Traud

 

America can achieve a coal-free (and nearly nuclear-free) future by 2050, even without a price on carbon. With federal climate legislation stalling in Congress - and giving billions away to the fossil fuel industry - the Civil Society Institute and Synapse Energy Economics investigated the possibility of a clean energy future without climate legislation. The report, "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Coal- and Nuclear-Free Future for America," reveals how, with smart investments and the right incentives, the United States can transition to an energy mix based on efficiency and renewables. while saving money and achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions at the same time.


The report compares "business as usual," which assumes a continued reliance on traditional energy sources, like coal and nuclear, with a transition scenario that phases out those energy sources while phasing in wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. By 2050, the transition scenario has retired all coal-fired power plants and a quarter of nuclear plants. At the same time, while costing more in the short term, America would save $5 billion per year by 2040 and $13 billion by 2050.


The energy and financial savings of the study are conservative, for two reasons. First, the Business as Usual scenario assumes the cost of coal remains relatively flat. Even without a price on carbon, this is unlikely to be the case, as coal becomes increasingly difficult to mine and the supply, particularly in central Appalachia, declines. Second, the study is based on existing renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. It does not account for any new breakthroughs or advances, which could lower the cost and increase the capacity of renewable energy significantly.

 

The study is useful for Kentucky mainly from a macro-perspective. It does not consider individual states and largely ignores the potential of distributed, small-scale generation potential. It has the southeast region generally relying on imported sources of electricity.

 

Although the report assumes there is no cap-and-trade or other price on carbon enacted in Congress, we still need smart energy policies that invest in and deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. To read an executive summary or the full report, please visit http://theclean.org.

 

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Energy Efficiency Job Training Energy Efficiency Job Training

Millard Area Technology Center in Pikeville, Kentucky has begun training energy auditors who will work to increase area homes’ energy efficiency. Millard’s 40-hour certification track equips students with the ability to perform blower-door tests, carbon monoxide checks and furnace inspections on homes, amongst other things.

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