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"We joined KySEA to help educate Kentuckians on renewable energy and to encourage solar and wind installations in Kentucky." - Siobhan Mary Pritchard, Regional Manager

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September

Sub-archives

Sep 28, 2011

Solar Farm To Be Built at Indianpolis Airport

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 28, 2011 01:35 PM

Re-posted from the Associated Press

A solar energy farm that is expected to produce enough electricity to power 1,200 homes will be built at Indianapolis International Airport.

The Indianapolis Star reports that the project will cost an estimated $35 million to $45 million to build. The array is expected to be operational by the middle of 2012. Its power will be bought by Indianapolis Power and Light Co.

The Star reports the 41,000-panel solar array will be built by a partnership of 3 Indianapolis companies.

The Star said about 85 construction jobs are expected to be created and that the long-term operation of the array is expected to create about 18 positions.

Airport officials said Tuesday that no public money is involved in development of the solar farm.

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 16, 2011

Green Jobs in the Bluegrass Are Growing

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 16, 2011 09:13 AM

 A recent report on green jobs in Kentucky indicates that green employment in the state is expected to grow at a more rapid pace than the workforce as a whole, with anticipated growth of 6.8% over the next two years.

Excerpts from the executive summary:
 
"The survey indicates that approximately 4.6% of Kentucky’s workforce are performing green jobs. A majority (78%) of the green jobs in Kentucky are full time positions while approximately 9.4% of the organizations in Kentucky include green jobs of some type.

The majority of green jobs in Kentucky are in the Recycling and Waste Reduction core category, followed by Energy Efficiency, then Pollution Reduction and Cleanup. However, the Energy Efficiency and Recycling and Waste Reduction categories appear positioned for the most employment growth in the green core areas in the next two years. 

"While the state’s green workforce is poised for growth, approximately 9% of employers anticipate difficulty in finding qualified candidates to fill positions in the Energy Efficiency."

While the state’s green workforce is poised for growth, approximately 9% of employers anticipate difficulty in finding qualified candidates to fill positions in the Energy Efficiency, while an estimated 6% are anticipating similar challenges in finding qualified candidates... [in other green work areas.]

Certifications can have an impact on an employer’s interest in hiring candidates for green jobs. In making hiring decisions over the next two years, 15% of employers indicated a favorable response to hiring a job candidate with a certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and 10% of employers cited Build-It Green Certification as increasing the likelihood that they would hire a candidate. On the other hand, a modest 7% of employers stated that they would only hire “already trained” employees for green positions.

The dominant modes of preparing green employees include, in order of employer preference, on-the-job training (79%), in-house classroom (39%), and online training (30%)."

The report was authored by ICF International and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

 

Sep 12, 2011

Solar Electric Classes Attract Participants from Across Kentucky

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 12, 2011 02:48 PM

By Andy McDonald, Director, Kentucky Solar Partnership (A KySEA member)

In August the Kentucky Solar Partnership hosted four days of trainings in Frankfort on solar photovoltaic system design and installation. Thirty two participants attended the first two-day class, “Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics.” Eighteen participants stayed for day three, “Solar Site Assessments and PV System Design,” and fourteen people attended the final day, “PV and the National Electric Code.” The classes were taught by Chris LaForge of Great Northern Solar, a NABCEP-certified solar PV installer and an ISPQ-certified PV instructor.

Chris LaForge Instructing Solar Classes

Instructor Chris LaForge with students outside KSP's Solar Trailer

Our participants included electrical contractors, solar electric contractors, recent college graduates, engineers, and others exploring solar energy as a potential career path. Two students from the University of Louisville will use the knowledge they gained as they help design U of L’s entry in the international Solar Decathalon solar home design competition. Four participants will receive Continuing Education Units from the Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction to support their electrician’s licenses.

Our participants came from a wide geographic area, ranging from Paducah to Prestonsburg to the Cincinnati Metro area. One person came all the way from Missouri and another from Evansville, Indiana.

andys solar home

Andy McDonald discusses his home's solar PV installation

On the second day of the training the class made a field trip to my home to view my recently-installed grid-tied solar PV system. This five panel, 1.125 KW array is a ground-mounted, battery-free system that was sized to meet 100% of my family’s annual electricity needs. Participants also had a chance to view KSP’s Solar Trailer, which demonstrates an off-grid, battery-based PV system. The chance to view operational PV systems in real-world applications was a highlight of the trainings for many participants.

Chris LaForge and Solar Pathfinder

Chris LaForge explains how to use a solar pathfinder

Nine of our participants were able to attend thanks to financial support offered by MACED (the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development). MACED supports the development of small businesses in eastern Kentucky and has a special emphasis on supporting sustainable energy enterprises. In addition to financial assistance to attend ASPI’s workshops, MACED also offers financing for business development investments, “energy microloans” for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments for eastern Kentucky businesses, and technical assistance to building trade contractors. MACED also has a Certified Energy Manager on-staff to provide energy consulting.

Coming up in October KSP will be hosting a five-day, hands-on installation training. Many of our participants from August will be returning to gain hands-on skills as we install an off-grid solar electric system on a mobile trailer. Registration for the October workshop is already full.

To learn more about MACED’s Energy Efficient Enterprises project, contact Elizabeth Graves at 859-986-2373 or egraves@maced.org.

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!

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Clean energy stories
Save money, create good jobs. Save money, create good jobs.

9,000 clean energy jobs could be created in Eastern Kentucky and save Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) customers money. Folks from throughout EKPC’s service area and beyond have joined in efforts to persuade the power company to make planning decisions that would create these good, green jobs.

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