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2011

Sub-archives

Sep 21, 2011

Kentucky Celebrates More than 100 Energy Star Schools

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 21, 2011 09:40 AM

Re-posted from the Alliance To Save Energy

On Thursday, Aug. 16, Millbrooke Elementary School in Christian County, Ky., hosted an awards ceremony to celebrate the certification of the 100th ENERGY STAR school in the state. Organized by County Energy Manager Bob Valentine, the event also honored four ENERGY STAR-certified schools in Christian County – all of which are partnered with the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools program sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Keynote speaker and first lady of Kentucky Jane Beshear joined representatives from TVA, local officials and business leaders to honor the state’s ENERGY STAR schools. Since Gov. Steve Beshear took office in 2007, Mrs. Beshear has devoted herself to efficiency initiatives including the Kentucky Green Team and Energy Conservation, which aim to bring energy efficiency to homes, schools and businesses across the state. Kentucky schools have followed suit, increasing the number of ENERGY STAR schools from eight in 2006 to 105 in 2011.

Students Save Energy at School, Home
Students are the key element to a school successfully gaining ENERGY STAR certification. Accordingly, the Green Schools program focuses on giving students an active role in their school’s energy saving initiatives.

Each school has a “Green Team” comprised of students, teachers and staff who work to educate themselves and the school community about the importance of saving energy – at school and at home. Mrs. Beshear noted that students’ hard work on saving energy translates into more money for the school district.

ENERGY STAR Schools Save Thousands of Dollars
The Green Teams made great strides at all four ENERGY STAR-certified schools to promote energy-saving behaviors in students, teachers and parents.

Through campus and community education, the students promote such simple behavioral changes as turning off lights in unused rooms, changing the thermostat a few degrees, and turning off computers and appliances when not in use. Changes like these helped the schools save more than 120,000 kWh of power over the past year, which amounts to over $20,000 saved. Their effort is underscored by the fact that all four schools were built more than 45 years ago.

Green Schools: Growing in Kentucky
The savings continue to add up. Christian County now has eight K-12 schools participating in the Green Schools program, many of them returning for their second year with the program. With continued success of the program, Green Schools hopes to engage more students and the entire community in learning and living energy efficiency.

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, chief sponsor of the clean energy bill KySEA supports, is a leader in the "Green Schools Caucus" effort in Frankfort. The caucus has helped to facilitate funding to make many of these schools possible. 

Sep 07, 2011

Worldwide solar panel oversupply knocking out U.S. manufacturers while making solar competitive with coal

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 07, 2011 12:15 PM

By Dan Hofmann, RegenEn Solar (A KySEA member)

(Editor’s note: In the last two weeks, three large American solar panel manufacturers including Evergreen Solar and Solyndra have sought bankruptcy protection due to increasing competition from China and plummeting solar panel prices. There’s been a 70-percent decrease in solar panel prices over the last 24-month, according to industry sources.)

Global competition and Europe’s budget woes are having an unexpected effect on the residential solar-energy business, a trend that’s bad for U.S-based manufacturers, but great for consumers.

The price of solar panels has dropped so dramatically during the first six months of  2011 that now, for the first time, solar  is competitive in pricing coal-fired electricity from LG&E.
The way panel prices are falling, even without the federal tax credits that expire in 2016, solar has reached parity with coal-fired plants.

This is a big deal.

Many – if not most – contractors in the industry can install a solar panel system for 8 cents per kilowatt-hour (after tax credits), the same rate that LG&E residential customers currently pay.

And LG&E rates are set to increase by 19.2 percent during the next five years while solar customers would be locked in at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for 25 years.

usa versus chinese loans to solarThe drop in solar panel prices is due to an unexpected reduction in government incentives throughout Europe that caused an oversupply for solar manufacturers worldwide.

Increased production from heavily subsidized Chinese manufacturers that can crank out solar panels at extremely low prices also contributes to the price drop.

As these solar panels prices fall, the U.S. industry is passing those savings directly to the homeowner.

There are economies of scale with solar, so the price per kilowatt-hour can range from 10 cents to 7 cents depending on the amount of kilowatt-hour usage per year. Some homeowners we talk to use 7,000 kilowatts per year while some people with large houses use 50,000 kilowatts per year,

The average LG&E residential customer uses about 11,500 kilowatts per year. This also applies to large commercial facilities where we can match the cost per kilowatt rate of around 3 cents.

The arithmetic behind the cost per kilowatt for solar is the amount of electricity the solar panels are guaranteed to produce while under warranty.

The industry standard is 25 years on the solar panels and, more recently, some inverters.

So, you take the upfront installation cost (after tax credits) and divide that by the total kilowatt-hour production over 25 years.
Another benefit is that solar panels can produce electricity for 40 or 50 years, so the actual cost per kilowatt-hour could end up being much less.

It will be interesting to see how the panel price war plays out, and whether consumers will proceed with long-planned solar projects, or hang back to see how low prices go.

Homeowners could buy a system now that pays for itself in 10 years, or wait five years for a system that pays for itself over five years – the ROI time horizon would be the same.

The take away here is, we now have an endless clean energy source that costs the same as fossil fuel energy.


Sep 05, 2011

Kentucky Home Performance Program Offers Kentuckians Improved Home Efficiency

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 05, 2011 09:01 PM

KY Home Performance is a statewide HOME PERFORMANCE with ENERGY STAR program that offers Kentucky homeowners to invest in the comfort and energy efficiency of their homes with convenience and confidence. By enrolling in the program, homeowners can choose from a cash rebate of up to $2000 or a 3.99 percent loan of up to $20,000 for the recommended energy-saving work.

What do they mean by ‘Performance’?
We measure a car’s performance by miles per gallon or MPG.  Likewise, a home that stays comfortable using minimal energy is a high performing home. KY Home Performance helps lower improve home efficiency in a variety of ways, with a formula for improvement specific to each home.

How does a homeowner get started?
To get started, homeowners can log onto KYHomePerformance.org and use a free self-assessment program called Home Energy Compass. To get started right away, skip the diagnostic tool and use the website to select a KY Home Performance certified evaluator. Schedule a home evaluation with the auditor to get a whole house energy evaluation.

What does a KY Home Performance certified evaluator do?
KY Home Performance certified home energy evaluators will review the home in detail and find out precisely how the home is losing energy and money.  This is a ”whole-house” approach that does not look at just one system or component in isolation, but assesses all of them as part of an integrated system.  With KY Home Performance on-line software, evaluators can show how cost-effective improvements will raise the home’s comfort, air quality, and energy performance.

What happens next?
Once the KY Home Performance evaluation is complete, homeowners will be provided a list of cost-effective improvements.  A minimum set of these must be made in order to qualify for the program financial incentives.  Home energy improvements above this minimum standard are optional.  All work will be performed by a KY Home Performance-approved installer chosen from the website.  Homeowners can apply for either a cash rebate of up to $2000 or a low-interest rate loan of up to $20,000 for ten years at 3.99 percent to finance all KHP-approved work.

Ky Home Performance Quality Assurance
Once the energy improvements have been made, the homeowner will get a post-installation inspection to insure that the intended energy benefits were successful and meet Ky Home Performance standards for the loan or rebate. Ky Home Performance seeks to raise home energy efficiency by a minimum of 20 percent.

Interested? Want to learn more? Log on to KyHomePerformance.org and get started today!

Aug 25, 2011

GE To Create 400-600 Jobs at Solar Power Plant

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 25, 2011 12:50 PM

Recently General Electric (GE) announced that it will build a 400 MW solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. The plant will be the largest power plant of its kind.

The $600 million plant is expected to employ 400-600 people and make enough solar panels each year to power 800,000 homes.

The announcement follows suit with market-wide acceptance that use of sustainable energy forms will continue to grow rapidly in coming years. This power plant is just one of several renewable energy and energy efficiency projects GE has underway.

GE's investment into sustainable energy has already had a sizable impact on Kentucky's green economy. A recent report about the green economy in Kentucky by the Brookings Institution stated that while jobs are being lost in other sectors, between 2003-2010, nearly 5,000 clean energy jobs were created in Kentucky. The largest job growth came in appliance manufacturing - primarily from GE investments into its high-efficiency appliance manufacturing operations based in Louisville.

When the decision to build the solar power plant was announced, GE indicated that the location would have been revealed by now - but they have made no such announcement as of today. What factors will impact their decision about the power plant's location? GE reported that the deciding factors, will include proximity to solar research facilities, labor availability, and state and local financial incentives.

GE is likely going to choose a state that has passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard and/or other market-based incentives - similar to the policies that the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance advocates to see passed in Kentucky.

Aug 02, 2011

Putting Damaged Land to Good Use Part II: A Transition From Coal To Solar

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 02, 2011 03:15 PM

By Dan Hofmann, President of RegenEn Solar LLC, a solar panel installation company located in Louisville, KY and a KySEA member.

I had such a great response to my recent commentary that I thought it would be worth the time to take an in depth look at the implications of such a massive undertaking.

Now that we know it’s physically possible for solar photovoltaics (PV) to supply all of the electricity needs in Kentucky by covering only 1/5th of the land already cleared by mountaintop removal (MTR) with solar panels, I think it’s important to ask the following: How quickly could we make the transition from coal to solar? How much would it cost in the short and long term? How would this transition affect coal mining jobs and how many jobs would it create? Can our economy, and our environment for that matter, afford to stick with coal for the long term?

I think the only way to make a transition of this scale possible would be to spread it over many decades. In my previous assessment, I estimated that it would take a 69.1 GW solar array to provide all of the electricity needs in Kentucky today, but if this project is spread out over many years the size of the solar array would need to grow to match the expected increase in electric kWh consumption over time.

Figure 1 below shows what I believe would be a feasible transition from coal-fired electricity to solar PV over the next 50 years. If we start by adding roughly 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar each year and increase that amount by 7% per year for 40 years, we could achieve a net-zero carbon economy by the year 2050; powered entirely by solar PV. It also shows the expected increase in electricity consumption from a total of about 90 terawatt-hours (TWh) today to about 240 TWh in the year 2060. This increased consumption is based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s data that shows an average annual increase of around 2% in electricity consumption in Kentucky from 1980–2005.

danfig1

Figure 2 below shows the solar PV capacity that would need to be installed per year and the cumulative in direct current (DC) megawatts. There would be a drop off in year 2050 as we achieved net-zero. But, new panels would still need to be manufactured and installed as the industry standard 25-year warranty would expire on earlier solar panels, thereby providing long-term jobs. However, manufacturers claim that solar PV panels can function well past their expiration date, producing electricity for 40 or even 50 years.

danfig2

Figure 3 below shows the jobs that would be created over the next 50 years. This projection is based on a University of California report that claimed that in the solar industry "20 manufacturing and 13 installation/maintenance jobs [are created] per installed megawatt." As you can see, the 20,000 coal-mining jobs (represented in red in the graph) in Kentucky would pale in comparison to the potential of solar PV. In fact, more than 30,000 jobs could be created in year one with the installation of 1 GW of solar, already matching coal-mining employment. These would not be temporary jobs either. The maintenance jobs would be needed indefinitely and the manufacturing and installations jobs would be needed as some solar panels are retired and replaced by new panels.

danfig3

Figure 4 below illustrates the corresponding gradual decrease and eventual elimination of coal-mining jobs in Kentucky.

danfig3
Starting with my estimate from my last commentary, Figure 5 below shows the decrease in the cost per watt DC of installing solar PV and energy storage over the next 50 years. This is based on the fact that the cost per watt to install solar has historically decreased by about 4% per year over that past decade. Energy storage would not need to be added until solar PV electricity production exceeded around 10% of the total, at which point the volatile nature of solar energy can present issues to a stable grid.

danfig5

Figure 6 below shows the cost per year in dollars to install solar PV, install energy storage, maintain the massive solar array, and build transmission grid infrastructure to get the electricity to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in Kentucky. I used this estimate of $1.5 million per mile to build the high voltage DC (HVDC) transmission lines and estimated an average of 100 miles per line with a maximum of 2,000 MW for each line.  As you can see, the annual payroll for solar manufacturers, solar installers, and solar maintenance jobs could be close to $13 billion a year by 2060, providing much needed employment income to the commonwealth.

danfig6

Figure 7 below shows the decrease in the consumer price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for solar energy over time. This cost includes the cost to install solar, install energy storage (beginning in 2020), maintain the solar array, and building the transmission infrastructure. While this decrease may not look like much at first glance, it’s much more desirable than the dramatic cost increases in Figure 8 if we were to stick with coal. 

danfig7

Figure 8 below shows the expected increasing cost of coal-fired electricity, which is sharply different from the expected decreasing cost of solar PV electricity over the same time period. This projection is based on a the 5% per year increase in the cost per kWh in Kentucky over the past 10 years for residential, commercial, and industrial sectors in Kentucky from empirical data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

danfig8

Figures 9 and 10 below show how costly it could be for Kentucky to ignore to potential of solar energy. While the annual cost of electricity during the transition from coal to solar could be similar to the cost of coal electricity by itself through the year 2030, the exponential increase in coal electricity could drain nearly $150 billion more per year than solar energy by 2060 with a cumulative cost of $1.78 trillion over 50 years. Kentucky has always used the cheap cost of coal electricity to lure business to the commonwealth, the same strategy could be used for solar electricity if we get a head start on competing states.

danfig9

danfig10

Figures 11, 12 and 13 show the environmental benefit of using solar PV electricity.

danfig11

danfig12

danfig13

 

It’s clear that solar energy is superior to coal-fired electricity in this department. Imagine using solar electricity to manufacture solar panels right here in Kentucky!

Jul 26, 2011

Owensboro-area Business Leader Invests in Solar

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 26, 2011 11:20 AM

Interview with Malcolm Bryant, President of the Malcolm Bryant Corporation by Lauren McGrath, Sierra Club organizer - Sierra Club is a KySEA member.

The Malcolm Bryant Corporation (TMBC), a thriving real estate development and property management company, is about to take a new angle on innovation.

mbc logoBased in Owensboro, KY, the Malcolm Bryant Corp has prided itself with an exceptional customer-focused, entrepreneurial vision that has led to its continued successes including – conducting business in more then fifteen different communities and owning more than one thousand current, and past, property occupants. The company, among other things, specializes in office design, technology, industrial location and hospitality service.  They’re even fully staffed up with everything their clients might need  - a full time construction and remodeling crews, free in-house design experts, full time mechanical and repair personnel as well as office staff. 

From the youngest to the oldest all of us are interested in the future. Solar energy offers us a view to the future of our planet and how we take care of ourselves at home and work. - Macolm Bryant

And now they’re about to add a new twist to their image – solar panels on their headquarters building in downtown Owensboro.

The install, slated for later this month, will also be the first commercial install of photovoltaic (PV) or “solar” panels in Owensboro, KY.  Following is a brief interview with TMBC’s President, Malcolm Bryant.

Q:  What first interested you, or your company, in solar energy?

Solar panelsA: Our company is focused on learning. We are constantly trying to expose our customers to the latest ways to improve their business and make their guests interested and comfortable in their space. Solar energy is certainly interesting. From the youngest to the oldest all of us are interested in the future. Solar energy offers us a view to the future of our planet and how we take care of ourselves at home and work. We love the creativity it brings to our properties. And we can’t ignore that all traditional energy sources are increasing in costs.
 

Q:  Solar has a pretty hefty upfront cost, what factors helped weigh this initial investment out for you?

A: The building that we are installing solar panels has an interesting past, being Owensboro High School in the early 20’s. We have been trying creative additions to it for many years. We painted a tromp’ loi mural on the facade 15 years ago and KET did a documentary on it, so it has an interesting history. We added a cloth awning 25 years ago and we constantly replace it due to the ultraviolet rays. That’s expensive.  It is now interesting that the sun’s rays should now help the building.  And as we mentioned all energy costs are increasing, so it is a good test model for us in seeing if it can help more of our  properties as well.

But, most importantly we want to show our customers our interest in helping their business. If  this can bring the right curiosity to the property they occupy, it brings good intentions to their business and being green and occupying sustainable buildings, should be good business

Q:  What do you think needs to happen to see these newer clean energy industries thrive in Kentucky?

In the broad picture, I believe our leaders need to make a generation changing statement about energy, much the same way we said when we would put a man on the moon.

A: The State and Federal and Local governments need to partner with entrepreneurs such as ourselves that want to make a difference. In the broad picture, I believe our leaders need to make a generation changing statement about energy, much the same way we said when we would put a man on the moon. Simply educating ourselves on the installation and interface with the grid is important on the local front.

Q:  What do you hope to gain from this experience? What opportunities exist?

A: Primarily we hope to create curiosity in the community and introduce our properties consistently as cutting edge places to do business. We have many visitors to our community form other cities and I believe it is a good signal to them that our community is exploring worldly ideas. We want to start the discussions of “what if…”

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A:  We are pursuing our new convention hotel under design, being LEED certified, the first LEED project in the region. It may have alternative energy opportunities, also.  We certainly will be the pioneer in this region and that’s a good initiative for us and our customers.

To learn more about solar energy and state energy policies that can support its growth, contact KySEA.


Jul 25, 2011

The Myth of Baseload

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 25, 2011 11:30 AM

By David Brown Kinloch, whose company - Shaker Landing Hydro Associates - is a member of KySEA

Originally published at www.kentucky.com.

For years, advocates of cleaner power have offered up renewable energy as the solution to our environmental problems. With growing concern about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, renewables are finally receiving serious attention abroad and in the United States.

With that attention has come pushback from those parties that have a lot invested in the status quo, especially those associated with coal. Originally they said renewables don't work, but renewable technology has become proven. Then they said renewable technology was not reliable, yet it has become very reliable. Then they said renewables could not be done on a large utility scale, and now the large wind farms have proven that wrong. Then they said there were not enough renewables to meet our energy needs, but studies show that there are ample sun, wind and water resources to meet our energy needs many times over, even without energy conservation, which itself will dramatically moderate our growing energy demands.

And now the naysayers have come up with a new reason: renewable can't meet our energy needs because "renewables cannot provide baseload power."

"Baseload" is a term that utilities use to describe their large centralized power plants, usually fueled with coal or nuclear fuel. Traditionally, these plants have been the lowest cost to operate, so they are used first, and usually run for long periods, making up the "base" of utilities' generation and handling the typical "load," with more expensive generators being used to meet the rest of demand on those days when it is higher than usual.

But this traditional way of operating a utility system is about to be turned upside down. Environmental and human health costs will likely make these "baseload" plants more expensive than other options, and as their costs are rising, the costs of renewable resources are coming down.

As we plan for the future, we must overcome the myth that the electric utility system cannot be operated without these "baseload" plants because renewable resources are too variable since the wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not shine at night.

While it is true that some renewable resources have different operating characteristics than current utility plants, some of those differences are positive, while others will require different operating procedures. The problem is not the variability or reliability of the renewable resources, but rather the desire by utilities to not change the way they operate their systems.

To understand this, we must first understand how an electric utility operates its system. Because such large volumes of Alternating Current (AC) electricity are being consumed all the time, it is very difficult and expensive to store this power in the volumes necessary to meet customer demand. So, instead, a utility performs a constant balancing act of making or purchasing just the correct amount of power at any moment to meet customer demand and correct for line losses. If the utility makes too much or too little for an extended period, the system voltage will rise or fall to the point that protective relays in the electric system will open up and the result will be a blackout.

Maintaining this exact balance between supply and demand, constantly 24/7, is the job of the dispatchers. They deal with customers adding or dropping loads, as well as generators coming on and off line. Customer load, which must be matched with generation, varies according to time of day (less power is used at night), time of year (more power is used in the summer and winter for heating and cooling) and by weather (very hot and cold periods require more power). Dispatchers do not look at the use of individual customers (except for very large industrial customers), but instead can fairly accurately predict how much power will be needed in the aggregate, hours or days ahead, using the season, time of day and forecast weather and temperatures.

The concept of "baseload" comes from the method that planners and dispatchers have used in the past to meet demand. Since a certain minimum amount of power will be needed no matter the time of day or year, dispatchers have used their lowest cost large units to meet this "base" demand, then added more expensive-to-operate generators to meet the additional demand during peak times of the day. But this is simply the way that the system has been operated in the past, not a requirement. The only real requirement is that the correct amount of power be provided as that power is demanded and needed by customers.

While these large centralized plants have in the past been used by dispatchers to meet around-the-clock demand, they also have their own set of problems for system operators. Their huge size causes major difficulties if they have a problem and a 500 megawatt plant suddenly trips off line. Dispatchers must scramble using a mix of spinning reserve, quick starting peaking units and borrowed power from neighboring utilities to quickly make up this deficit. To protect against the possibility of big generators tripping off-line, utilities have had to invest a lot of money in extra generating capacity, called a reserve margin (in the range of 20 percent more than their projected highest peak load), spinning reserve (capacity running, but not loaded, for quick emergencies) and interconnections with other utilities. All of these are parts of the ratepayer cost of using large "baseload" plants.

It is also difficult to replace one large unit for another. If a large coal generator trips off line with mechanical problems, getting a replacement unit on line can take a while. It can take 24 hours to start-up, synchronize and load a large coal-fired unit from a cold start. Even from a warm start, the process can still take 6 hours, so large coal units are not started and stopped as load varies. Instead, the units can be backed-down during lower use periods, and operated in a lower output mode, which is also less efficient.

Nuclear power plants add even more operational difficulties. For the most part, these units cannot safely be backed-down during low demand periods, so coal units also on the system must be backed-down even further making them even less efficient. This can cause some real operational problems during minimal demand periods (like spring and fall with no heating or cooling load, late at nights, on a weekend when industry is shutdown). If the nuclear plants can't be backed-down, and the coal units are backed down as far as they can go, the electric system can be threatened by too much power.

One way to deal with the problem of nuclear power plants' inability to safely reduce output during low use times was the development of pumped-storage hydro. In these plants, power is used during off- peak times when there is more power than needed, to pump water uphill to a storage reservoir, then the water is later run back downhill during peak times to generate electricity. While these plants are expensive, they have offered assistance in dealing with large fixed output nuclear plants. There are over 23,000 megawatts of pumped-storage hydro capacity in the U.S. today, located mainly where utilities are also using nuclear power. So utilities have developed expensive but effective ways to deal with the problems inherent in the use of large centralized coal and nuclear plants, and the ratepayers have paid these costs.

Renewable energy plants have their own set of issues that must be dealt with by system planners and dispatchers. Renewable plants tend to be much smaller, so the loss of an individual plant or even a group of plants does not cause the problems of a large centralized plant. Also, most renewable plants can be started and synchronized to the grid very quickly, unlike the large fossil and nuclear plants. So the challenges for planners and dispatchers associated with "baseload" generators generally do not occur with renewable generators. Instead, the major problem with renewables is the variable nature of the power. While no current fossil-fuel or nuclear power plant is available to the dispatcher all the time due to forced outages (something breaking) and planned outages (scheduled downtime for maintenance), renewable plants face longer outage periods due to a lack of fuel (sun, wind or water). Yet these periods are different from the unexpected forced outages that the large coal and nuclear plants experience. Just like expected customer loads can be predicted hours or days ahead by dispatchers using weather forecasts, sun, wind and water produced electric output can be predicted in the exact same way with weather forecasts. Also, geographic diversity of a lot of small renewable generators, like wind turbines, means that all the units taken as a whole have a much higher capacity factor than any individual unit alone.

The other complaint from utilities about wind and solar power is that they are not "dispatchable," meaning utility dispatchers cannot turn these units on or off like they can large centralized power plants. Yet because there is no fuel cost associated with renewable plants, using economic dispatch (which uses the plants with the lowest variable costs first), renewable plants would always be dispatched first, so that dispatchability is a non-issue. The real issue for dispatchers is knowing how much power will be produced by renewable plants in aggregate at any time in the near future and integrating this into their calculations of the amount of additional generation that will be needed. Like customer load that can be predicted using weather forecasts and other factors, renewable generation can also be predicted. So in a sense, this renewable generation will act as negative load, or a reduction in the amount of other load demand that the utility must supply at any given time. Today, future load (say the next day) is predicted by dispatchers, and then they determine which generating plants will need to be on line to meet that predicted load. In the future, the procedure will be the same, except the negative load from renewable generators will be subtracted from the positive customer load, and dispatchers will then need to have the generating assets available to meet the net load.

The question then becomes, with a large penetration of renewable generators, can the electric system be operated without the significant "baseload" units utilities rely upon today? The answer is absolutely yes. While utilities have characterized certain parts of the load they serve as "baseload," and have used large and inefficient centralized plants to meet this part of the load, the reality is that each hour of each day there is a certain amount of load that must be met with power generation, and that load can be met with any type of generation the dispatcher chooses. Today, utilities use large centralized coal and nuclear plants to meet a portion of the load, and then use more expensive gas fired generation to meet the balance. The gas fired generation is also used as a quick start substitute when one of these large plants fail and drops off line.

When renewables become a substantial part of the resource mix, these gas-fired units that now back-up the large "baseload" plants can be used to fill in holes when the mix of renewables is not sufficient to meet predicted load demand. Now that natural gas prices have been coming down as new resources have reached the market, and coal-fired generation is becoming more expensive as pollution controls are needed, many utilities are opting to rely more heavily on gas-fired generation, which should further help with the dispatch of utility systems with large penetrations of renewable generators.

There are also some types of dispatchable renewable plants, such as peaking hydro plants, which can be brought on-line in minutes (not hours), and biomass plants which can be ramped up and down like a large centralized plant. In addition, the pumped-storage hydro plants that have been built to deal with the fixed capacity nature of nuclear plants, can also be used to provide additional backup for renewable generation. And there are solar thermal generating plants being built that will have the capacity to store significant heat for use when the sun isn't shining.

Clearly the customer load can be met, hour by hour, primarily with renewables, without today's 'baseload" plants; in fact these plants may get in the way of renewables providing substantial amounts of the needed power in a given hour.

The problem here is not the nature of renewable resources or any technical hurdle, but rather it is getting utility planners and dispatchers to think outside the "baseload" mindset that they have been stuck in for so many years. Instead of thinking horizontally — adding strips of large "baseload" capacity to run for days or weeks or even months then filling in the gaps, instead the dispatcher needs to look vertically ahead — what will be my load minus my negative load from renewables and then how do I fill any gaps.

The need for large, centralized baseload capacity is not some requirement of the electric power system, but rather a desire to continue to do things as utilities have done in the past, the way they know. What is needed is not additional baseload capacity, but simply the willingness of utilities to look at meeting customer load with different resources, and the development of forecasting tools and dispatch methodologies that easily and reliably integrate clean power sources into their systems.

As the internalizing of the health and environmental costs of the "baseload" plants makes their power more and more expensive, and as it becomes ever more increasing difficult to get these dirty plants to operate under cleaner and cleaner requirements (especially in a carbon-constrained world), utility planners and dispatchers will be forced to think differently as theD switch to clean renewable generators happens, whether they like it or not.

David Brown Kinloch, a Louisville engineer, can be reached at softenergy@juno.com.

Jul 22, 2011

Solar Panels and Wind Turbine Installed at Kentucky's Capitol

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 22, 2011 12:35 PM

Solar Capitol Install

A solar panel array, solar hot water collectors and a wind turbine were recently installed on the roof of the education center located on the grounds of the Kentucky state capitol in Frankfort. The building is highly energy efficient as well. The renewable energy systems are visible from the Governor’s office. The solar panels are expected to produce more than 8,000-kilowatt hours of sustainable electricity each year. Solar Energy Solutions, a Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance member, completed the solar installations.

Jul 12, 2011

SACE: Cheers for Duke Energy and Progress Energy

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jul 12, 2011 01:47 PM
Filed Under:

This blog originally posted on the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's Footprints on the Path to Clean Energy blog on 7/11.

Cheers for Duke Energy and Progress Energy

People in the Southeast do want energy efficiency! We had no doubts, but it is great to see strong participation in the first full year of new efficiency programs offered by Progress Energy Carolinas (PEC) and Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC). Our analysis shows that  both utilities achieved greater savings and spent less per kWh than they had anticipated. We were particularly pleased to see that both utilities achieved a “cost of saved energy” similar to some national leaders and lower than their Southeastern peers (Table 1).

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All Carolinas energy customers are benefiting from low cost energy savings. After the first full year of data, it looks like Duke Energy is outperforming Progress Energy in terms of total savings, and as a percentage of retail sales (Table 2).

What made the difference for Duke Energy? The lower costs and higher savings are driven by large CFL programs, both in terms of number of bulbs installed and savings per bulb. While these programs are very successful and low-cost, the federal lighting standard that goes into effect in 2012 will reduce the amount of savings the utility can claim from a CFL bulb because the utility only gets credit for helping customers go “beyond standards.”

Both utilities are achieving greater savings and lower costs than their peers across the Southeast. This is no surprise to us - just like most business opportunities, energy efficiency programs operate best at an economy of scale.

The results come with some caveats. These are preliminary data: Some of the savings claimed by the utility are still subject to a “true-up”, or measurement and verification analysis. Another caveat is that many Carolinas utility customers are served by other utilities, whose data we haven’t obtained or analyzed yet. So in another year or so, we should have an even better picture of what utilities and their customers have been achieving, and at what cost.

What do these savings mean for customers? An easy way for customers to understand the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency is to compare it to electricity rates. The “cost of saved energy” is like the cost to build a power plant, a power plant that operates for free for years afterwards. Assume that the “energy efficiency power plant” lasts ten years (a common result): if the cost of saved energy is $0.20, then the average cost of energy efficiency is just 2 cents per kWh. That’s cheaper than even the low, low rates that industrial customers pay (around 5 cents per kWh). It’s cheaper to pay for energy savings than to burn fuel in power plants!

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Table 1. Comparison of Utility Cost of Saved Energy

Duke opens up with a strong residential lighting program

Duke Energy’s Residential Smart Saver program, which achieved the majority of its savings from residential CFLs, used low and no cost coupons to create an incentive for their customers to purchase and install energy efficient CFLs. They used targeted marketing and had a customer specific code on each coupon so they were aware of who was redeeming the coupons, and who wasn’t. Based on independent measurement and verification, for every 100 free bulbs that Duke Energy gave away, the program received credit for 107 bulbs due to customers purchasing additional CFLs when cashing in their CFL coupon.

Progress delivering energy savings to its business customers

Progress Energy’s commercial business program was successful as well. The program offered commercial, industrial, government and educational customers standard or prescriptive rebates for installing energy efficiency measures. The standard rebate is a set amount, for example, a $6-8 incentive for replacing a T12 light fixture with a T8 florescent light fixture. The custom rebate is for technologies that Progress Energy hasn’t included in its standard program thus far, and allows customers some flexibility in customizing the energy efficiency solution they need for their business.

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Table 2. Progress Energy & Duke Energy efficiency savings as a percentage of retail sales

Ideas for improvements

While both of these programs were successful, and we hope will continue to be, there are a few improvements to Duke Energy and Progress Energy’s energy efficiency portfolio that could be made.

Elks Timberline Cool Roof Shingles dont look different from normal shingles, but they cut down on cooling costs.

Elk's Timberline Cool Roof Shingles don't look different from "normal" shingles, but will cut air conditioning costs.

First, neither utility offers a small business efficiency program. Several utilities have shown great results by designing specific programs that cater to small business. They may offer turnkey or similar implementation of energy efficiency technology.

Second, neither utility offers a complete design-to-commission new construction energy efficiency program for their commercial customers. It is critical to encourage contractors to install energy efficiency during the construction process because many of the measures, particularly with the building envelope, are no longer available cost-effectively after the construction is finished. Then when the building is complete, it is necessary to complete a proper “commissioning” to make sure the building systems are operating to design specs. Many buildings last for longer than 50 years, so it is very important the utilities try and capture these time sensitive savings.

Finally, we recommend that the utilities look at their implementation models. For example, neither of the utilities are offering upstream incentives. This is a program where the utility offers an incentive to the manufacturer, or retail store (“upstream” in the value chain from the customer) to produce or sell energy efficient measures. Often the goal of this type of program is to give the customer the option of purchasing an energy efficiency widget for the same price as the standard widget. One technology that we think would be well suited for an “upstream incentive” program are residential reflective roof shingles.

 

Program Ideas Description Examples
Small business efficiency program Small businesses often have not implemented energy efficiency measures because of time, cost and other market barriers. While Duke and Progress make program offers available to small businesses, best practice utility programs target small businesses with market niche specific solutions. Arizona Public ServiceSmall Business Program
Xcel Energy Minnesota –  One-Stop Efficiency Shop
Xcel Energy Colorado – Small Business Lighting

 

Commercial new construction New construction is an important time to install energy efficiency measures because many savings opportunities exist with low incremental costs that are not cost-effective as a retrofit. Progress Energy Carolinas offers incentives for energy efficient new construction, but not a complete design-to-commission program. Progress Energy CarolinasEE for Business
Interstate Power & LightCommercial New Construction
MidAmerican EnergyCommercial New Construction

 

Residential reflective roofs “upstream” incentives High quality, reasonably priced residential “cool roof” products have been available for many years. Studies suggest residential customers have a low response rate to rebate offers for cool roof shingles. Utilities have demonstrated that response rates to so-called “upstream” (distribution channel) incentives can be higher for measures that require a trusted installer. CaliforniaUpstream HVAC incentive program operated by Energy Solutions
Xcel Energy Colorado Upstream CFL program

 

- Natalie Mims co-authored this blog.

Jun 21, 2011

Company Considering Wind Turbines in Northern KY

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 21, 2011 10:19 AM

Reposted from: The Associated Press

MAYSVILLE, Ky. — A Florida company is exploring the possibility of building wind turbines to generate electricity in two northern Kentucky counties.

NextEra Energy Resources began conducting studies last year to determine if the turbines would be a good fit for Mason and Bracken counties.

NextEra project manager Adam Rickel said preliminary findings show the area could support wind turbines. Rickel said the company has made contact with local landowners in northwest Mason County and northeast Bracken County as potential hosts for 40 to 70 wind turbines.

"The main thing right now is talking to landowners," Rickel said.

Rickel and other representatives recently attended the Mason County Fiscal Court meeting to talk with local officials and answer questions about the potential project, The Ledger Independent in Maysville reported.

Even after the studies are completed, Rickel said there has to be a market for the energy.

"Eventually we have to sell the power to somebody," he said. "If it's not profitable we're not going to put them up."

NextEra Energy said economic benefits would include more than $180 million investment in Mason and Bracken counties with approximately $32 million in property tax revenue and $17.5 million escalating lease payments to landowners. The economic impact calculations are based on the first 25 years.

Also, an approximate $19 million will be spent on salaries and benefits for eight full-time employees to maintain the turbines after their construction.

Each turbine requires up to an acre and a half of space. The land would be leased for the turbines, but the property could still be used by the landowner for livestock or crops.

The wind turbines stand between 262 and 328 feet tall, according to information from NextEra. The wingspan of the turbine brings the total height to roughly 400 feet. The 40 to 70 wind turbines would produce approximately 100 megawatts of energy, or enough energy to power about 28,000 average Kentucky homes.

Rickel said Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and surrounding areas are expected to see more development in coming years so those states were evaluated as possible study sites.

Other benefits to the wind turbines are that they produce no air, water or ground pollution, use no water in the generation of electricity and there is compatible land use which preserves existing rural nature and agricultural use, according to NextEra, which is based in Juno Beach, Fla.




Jun 10, 2011

State manufacturers forced to find energy savings

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 10, 2011 01:16 PM

An op-ed from the Lexington Herald-Leader last month. Read it online here.

By Danny Taylor

More than 300 Kentucky manufacturing and related industry professionals gathered in Louisville in late April to discuss the shifting energy industry and steps they can take to control rising energy costs.
What they heard from the governor, legislators, utilities and energy-industry professionals was this: The time is now to analyze where and how manufacturers use energy so they can implement energy-efficiency strategies that put them in the best possible position for a vastly different energy future.

Kentucky has enjoyed electricity prices among the lowest in the nation. Thus, manufacturers traditionally have not carefully managed and controlled their energy consumption. As a result, Kentucky's energy use per industrial customer is the third-highest in the nation, 427 percent above the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Deregulation, emerging Environmental Protection Agency regulations and rising industrial electricity rates are forcing manufacturers to look more closely at how they consume energy, according to speakers at the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers Energy Conference 2011. Industrial electricity rates in Kentucky have already risen 43 percent over the past five years, according to economic agencies, and some predict they will double over the next decade.

And the EPA is quite serious about rules it proposed in March to cut emissions from coal-burning power plants, rules that are estimated to cost industry $2.8 billion. Attempts by both houses of Congress in early April failed to block the EPA's authority to issue these regulations; the first public hearings are scheduled for May 24-26. The cost of these regulations will be felt acutely in Kentucky, which relies on coal to generate more than 90 percent of its electricity.
Moreover, America's energy grid is stressed by peak demand; major infrastructure overhaul is inevitable. That means more energy price increases.

The good news is that measures to reduce energy consumption, from the factory floor to the administrative offices, can make a real difference in the bottom line. A 2007 report prepared for the governor's office by the University of Louisville and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found minimally aggressive measures can save Kentucky industry an estimated $1.7 billion. More aggressive measures could save more than 26 percent, or $2.9 billion, by 2017.

The minimally aggressive measures include installing pumps, sensors and usage controls; insulating pipes; compressed air management, and optimizing motor systems. More aggressive measures include installing energy information systems that enable monitoring and immediate adjustment of energy usage, and revamping of HVAC systems.

Much of the cost of these measures can be paid for with future energy savings. Pat Appelman of Fort Knox told conference attendees that the bulk of the measures put it in place on the 109,000-acre Army base required little or no up-front cost, and many of them began realizing savings in the first year.

Fort Knox has reduced its energy consumption by 36 percent since 1990 and is now setting the standard for energy efficiency among Army installations across the country.

To get started on energy efficiency, manufacturers must:

■ Get an energy audit to help measure and understand how much, and when, energy is used. That in itself can result in savings as manufacturers begin paying attention to what uses the most energy and comparing that to their rate structure. An audit also will suggest various equipment retrofits and operational adjustments, the amount of energy savings they will achieve and the projected payback period.

■ Engage top leadership and make it accountable for improvements to help usher in the workplace culture change. For example, Ingersoll Rand began with an education program for leadership and a "Treasure Hunt" strategy that employed volunteers to make behavioral changes that others could imitate. The company then completed some easy-to-implement projects. This set the stage for a culture of buy-in for future improvements.

■ Install highly visible measurement systems, such as information screens showing energy usage on the plant floor and in break rooms, or including them as screensavers on company computers. AGC Automotive installed a large dashboard showing "key performance indicators" for employees to see every time they enter the plant. Not only has the information helped improve performance, it also has been useful in demonstrating to potential customers the company's quality-control and cost-reduction strategies.

Through success stories such as these, it has become clear that ongoing improvements in energy efficiency are no longer just an optimistic goal; they have become an urgent necessity for Kentucky manufacturers to remain competitive.

 

Louisville business supports clean energy solutions

by Erik Hungerbuhler — last modified Jun 10, 2011 12:54 PM
Filed Under:

KYGreenTV recently interviewed Jeff Auxier, Secretary of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society on the roof of Patrick O'Shea's restaurant in Louisville to show off the restaurant's new solar water heater system and to talk about KySEA's efforts to pass clean energy legislation n Frankfort.

Part 1

Part 2

Jun 07, 2011

Proof that Solar Works in Kentucky

by Dan Hoffman — last modified Jun 07, 2011 11:50 AM

By Dan Hoffman, President of RegEN Solar (KySEA member)

Even after two years of running a solar panel installation business, I'm still surprised when I hear people say that solar can't work in Kentucky because it's too cloudy.

Regenen Solar Graphic

I had a few minutes this past weekend and put together this this graphic that shows the daily electric output of a solar panel system we installed in Frankfort, KY in March of this year along with the weather from each day. The system is doing great and producing as expected averaging about 20 kWh per day. As anyone who looks at it can see, even on rainy and cloudy days the solar panels are still producing electricity. Usually about 20% of system capacity. Additionally, this customer's roof angle is less than the ideal 38 degrees to the horizontal so he'll be averaging more over the coming summer months.

May 27, 2011

Register Soon for the Kentucky Habitat For Humanity Green Housing Conference

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 27, 2011 11:35 AM

WHAT: Green Housing Conference

WHEN: Monday June 13th and Tuesday June 14th

WHERE: Fayette County Extension Facility, 1140 Red Mile Place  in Lexington

COST: $25 for KySEA allies

Kentucky Habitat For Humanity, a member of the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, will host an amazing 2-day conference on green housing at the Fayette County Extension Facility in Lexington on June 13th and 14th. The special cost for KySEA allies is $25 for the two days, which includes all meals. Scholarships for travel costs and fees are also available.

The conference, entitled "Beginning With The End In Mind," will feature a wide range of speakers, including policy-makers and technical specialist from in and out of state. This conference focuses completely on the use of sustainable energy and green building techniques in ways that maintain housing affordability. As many know, Habitat For Humanity works successfully with thousands with low-income families each year to provide sustainable, affordable housing.  


Visit www.kyhfh.org or contact Ginger Watkins (ginger@kyhfh.org) to learn more or register for the event.

May 11, 2011

Save the Date: May 24th KySEA Meeting

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 11, 2011 09:35 AM

Join us for a KySEA meeting
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
10 am to 4 pm
Northside Library Branch
1733 Russell Cave Road
Lexington, KY

BRING A BROWN BAG LUNCH!

If you are a new member or haven't been actively involved in the alliance, this is the meeting for you. It's a great chance to learn about KySEA.

During the day, we will discuss changes in the state and national energy landscape, explore Kentucky's renewable and efficiency potential and highlight specific ways you can plug into our alliance strategy for this year.

Please click here to let us know if you plan to attend.

Questions or want to join KySEA? Email nancy@kysea.org.

Apr 19, 2011

Solar Panels Light Up Cincinnati Zoo

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 19, 2011 09:20 AM

Re-posted from The Cincinnati Enquirer, article by Mike Boyer

Visitors to the Cincinnati Zoo are marveling at a new sight: Nearly 4 acres of solar panels have been installed over a vast span of the parking lot.

Cincy Zoo Solar PanlesSolar panels installed at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden parking lot will generate 20% of the zoo's electricity.

Billed as one of the largest public urban solar displays in the country, the $11 million solar "canopy" will do much more than help control the zoo's utility bills and shelter visitors from the elements when it's turned on in mid-April, developers say.

While it puts solar technology on display, the project also "will help put Cincinnati on the map as a national leader in the adoption and promotion of clean energy," said developer Steve Melink, Clermont County businessman and renewable energy advocate.

Workers finished installing the last solar panels Friday. The project has already sparked calls from more than a dozen zoos from as far away as California and Oregon interested in the project and how it was put together.

Mark Fisher, the zoo's senior director of facilities, planning and sustainability, said it's creating a buzz from visitors as well. "Some people wonder what the heck it is, and those who have heard about it are surprised at how big it is," he said.

According to Melink, the project consists of 6,400 photovoltaic solar collection panels assembled on more than 100 metal arrays, 15 to 18 feet high. They cover about 800 of the 1,000 parking spaces at the zoo's main entrance. The project is designed to produce 1.56 megawatts of electricity, about 20% of the zoo's annual need and enough to power 200 homes.

It isn't the largest solar project in Ohio. The Wyandot Solar farm, a utility-sponsored project near Upper Sandusky, covers about 80 acres and is designed to produce more than 10 megawatts of electricity.
Because the zoo's parking canopies are so public, officials say it will dramatically spur interest in solar here.

"The education aspect is worth a lot," says Raju Yenamandra, vice president at SolarWorld, a German-based company that produced the zoo's solar panels at its plant in Hillsboro, Ore. He thought so highly of the zoo project that he accelerated the delivery schedule for the zoo's solar panels, so the project would be ready this spring.

"When you think of the number of people who visit the zoo (about 1.3 million annually), particularly younger kids, the educational aspect will be fantastic," he said.

Solar canopies, which harness the sun's rays for electricity and provide shelter from its harsh rays, have been popular in warmer climates such as Southern California and Arizona. They're gaining in popularity in other parts of the country in the face of rising energy prices and government incentives to make solar technology more affordable.

"We're bidding multiple projects all over the country," said Dana Rudolph, president of ProtekPark Solar, which fabricated and installed the metal structures holding the solar panels. ProtekPark, a sister company of greenhouse constructor Rough Brothers, has been building parking canopies for about 10 years but lately found solar projects are the fastest-growing part of its business. It recently supplied metal canopies for solar projects at two community colleges in New Jersey.

The Cincinnati Zoo project grew out of a casual meeting between Fisher, Melink and Jeremy Chapman, Melink's business development manager, at a green building conference in Phoenix two years ago.
Fisher, who was looking for opportunities to expand the zoo's growing green profile, said Melink was looking for a signature project to demonstrate its developing solar installation business: "I told them: I have a parking lot."

Melink, which is developing a smaller pre-engineered solar array system for homes and businesses, was intrigued.

"We want to make a difference," he said. "And this was the scale we wanted."

The biggest hurdle was structuring the project's financing.

"It was about 99% financing and 1% engineering," Melink said.
The project relies on financing through a combination of federal New Market Tax Credits and federal energy tax credits through PNC Bank. It relies on cash from the tax credits, sales of electricity over the next seven years to the zoo and selling the renewal energy credits generated by the investment to Akron-based FirstEnergy.

Fisher said that initially the parties couldn't make the deal work financially until the non-profit Uptown Consortium and New York City-based National Development Council agreed to contribute New Market Tax Credits allocated to them toward the project.

Fisher said the project allows the zoo to lock in the price for about 20% of its electricity at about 8 cents a kilowatt hour for the next seven years. The agreement gives the zoo the option to buy the system in the eighth year if it chooses.

 

Note: Ohio passed a statewide alternative energy standard in 2008 that incentizes the use of renewable energy sources, including solar.

Feb 24, 2011

Clean Energy Opportunity Act - House Bill 239 - Awaits A Hearing

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Feb 24, 2011 10:25 AM

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act, House Bill 239, sponsored by Reprsentative Mary Lou Marzian was assigned to the House Energy and Tourism Development committee. It awaits a hearing there.

The bill would establish a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard and long-term price guarantees for in-state renewable energy generators. Read more about the bill here.

Please call 1-800-372-7181 and thank House leaders for assigning the bill to a committee where it will be heard and thank Representative Combs for her willingness to hear the bill in committee.

Feb 07, 2011

Lighten Up Frankfort!

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Feb 07, 2011 02:05 PM

Lighten Up Frankfort was made possible by a $25,000 Environmental Justice Small Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received jointly by the Frankfort Climate Action Network (FrankfortCAN) and Appalachia- Science in the Public Interest (both KySEA member groups).

Groups of individuals or members/employees of the participating organizations form teams of three to ten households that met four times and commit to actions that reduce each household’s greenhouse gas emissions. The teams use a workbook called “The Low Carbon Diet,” and the quantities used to project household cuts are based on estimates provided in the book.

The goal for LUF is to reduce Frankfort/Franklin County’s carbon footprint by 1,000 tons by the end of June.  At this time, the greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 413 tons.  LUF now has 35 teams which have joined LUF.   

LUF now has a total of 239 participating households with 66 reports received.  

From the 22 teams which are still meeting and the teams which have been asked to join Lighten Up Frankfort, we anticipate having at least an 213 additional reporting households by the end of June.  The greenhouse gas emissions reduced by participants is 6.25 tons on average, which would result in a carbon footprint reduction of 1750 tons if our expectations are realized.

Jan 17, 2011

All Our Eggs in One Basket

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jan 17, 2011 09:15 AM

By Tim Darst

Of KySEA member Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light

In Kentucky we get more than 90% of our electricity from coal.  Many Eastern and Western Kentucky communities’ are highly dependant upon coal jobs.   While electricity from coal is cheap and many coal jobs pay well, does it make sense to have such a high percentage of our future tied to coal?

There are adverse effects of this over reliance also.  Louisville and Lexington rank in 1st and 5th in the country in per capita carbon footprint due to the burn of coal for electricity (Brown, 2008, Brooking Institute). 

We are some of the most inefficient users of electricity in the country.  We are one of the states most highly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change legislation.  A recent article in the journal Energy predicts that we will hit peak coal production soon which means that coal prices will increase sharply as demand outstrips supply.

Who has more than 90% of their retirement fund invested in one company?  We need to diversify our portfolio to make sure that we don’t suffer theses bad effects in the future.  There are alternatives.  Solar panels and wind turbines can be made locally thus bringing manufacturing jobs and will provide jobs for the installers as well.  Kentucky gets the same amount of sunlight as Germany and Germany is a world leader in solar.  There are many parts of the state that have strong wind patterns.

The change needs to start with the General Assembly in Frankfort and they will have the opportunity to make a difference with the bill being proposed by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance.  The bill has a provision that requires Kentucky utilities to diversify their portfolio of where they get their electricity.   It proposes a modest timetable of 2% renewable energy by 2013, 5% by 2016, 8.5% by 2019, and 11.5% by 2019.  We should all pressure our lawmakers in Frankfort to support this bill.

Stay tuned for blogs on other provisions of the bill.

Jan 07, 2011

The Potential For Clean Energy in Kentucky

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jan 07, 2011 08:55 AM

Posted by Cumberland Chapter Sierra Club

Join us for a presentation about the potential for clean energy in Kentucky!

Tuesday January, 18, 7:00pm at the Clifton Center in Louisville

Please join us for our inaugural meeting of 2011 as we hear about the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, KySEA (www.kysea.org).  The Sierra Club is a founding member of this Alliance, which has become a broad coalition of organizations and businesses working to advance sustainable energy policies and practices in our state.  Besides the Sierra Club, the coalition includes groups such as Community Farm Alliance, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Mountain Area Community Economic Development, and Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light.

Wallace McMullen, Greater Louisville Sierra Club's Conservation Chair, will fill us in on KSEA and how the ideas and initiatives are developing to take concerted action together for a more prosperous and environmental Kentucky.

The Ky Sustainable Energy Alliance mission is drawn from these questions:  What are the best energy policies for Kentucky?  How can they be implemented?  What will get our elected State officials to listen?

Wallace will provide the most up-to-date answers, tell us what the current state of play is with the KySEA initiatives, and suggest what we can all do.

Our meeting is at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 18th, at the Clifton Center (www.cliftoncenter.org).  It is free and open to the public. Start the year off with an informative program on how we can work together to create a healthier, sustainable energy future for Kentucky.

For more information contact Steve Henry, daddytcb@bellsouth.net, or Wallace McMullen, mcmulw@bellsouth.net

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Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Leads the Way with Energy Innovation, Wind, Solar Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Leads the Way with Energy Innovation, Wind, Solar

Nolin RECC, serving Breckinridge, Bullitt, Grayson, Green, Hardin, Hart, LaRue, Meade and Taylor counties, is the first rural electric co-op in the nation to receive certification from Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER). PEER, the world's first certification program that measures power system performance and electricity infrastructure, awarded Nolin the certification in 2018 because of initiatives such as continuous monitoring of power quality, its enhanced tracking of causes for equipment failure and its emergency response plan. Colin hopes it will set an example for other rural energy cooperatives through the certification.

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