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"The Kentucky Environmental Foundation has for twenty years been focused on finding clear grassroots and policy solutions to some of our community's worst environmental problems, to hold government accountable for protection of our health now and in the future. KySEA means when it comes to energy issues in Kentucky, we don't have to work alone.  The Alliance offers an opportunity for many groups with a wide range of experiences and expertise to unite for clean energy policy solutions, creating a drumbeat for change that will benefit our health, the environment and our state economy."

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June

Sub-archives

Jun 26, 2012

Kentucky Significantly Can Ramp Up Use of Distributed Energy Today, new report finds.

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 26, 2012 11:45 AM

In a KySEA-sponsored webinar on June 21st, Rory McIlmoil of Downstream Strategies discussed the findings of the report “The Opportunities for Distributed Energy in Kentucky,” which illustrate Kentucky’s potential for small-scale renewable energy.

If pursued to its fullest potential, small-scale renewable energy could provide up to 34% of Kentucky’s electricity demand by 2025, the report found.

The report recommends that the state institute policies that encourage distributed renewable energy. The report defined distributed energy generation as “the generation of electricity and heat, or the capture and reuse of waste heat, at or near the point of consumption.”

“The broad overarching purpose of this report was to not only provide a detail of what’s available in Kentucky but to kind of throw out a counter argument for public opinions when it comes to renewable energy,” McIlmoil said.

People often imagine renewable energy as large, centralized solar plants. However, small-scale renewable energy is possible and a practical option in Kentucky. Rather than relying on large power plants, distributed energy generation would allow for on-site energy supplies and local ownership. Local ownership of energy supplies creates more jobs and allows more money to stay in local communities, which would be of great benefit to Kentucky’s economy.

Although it would require many policy changes to reach this potential, transitioning to increased use of these energy resources is possible. Renewable technology is already being used throughout many states, and in Kentucky there are electric co-ops that illustrate the possibility for small-scale renewable energy. “These aren’t technologies of the future,” McIlmoil said.

According to McIlmoil, Kentucky has a greater solar resource than New Jersey, the state that leads the east coast in solar energy, and Germany, which leads the world. Harnessing more of the sun’s power through solar panel installations, for example, would create more jobs by allowing for local labor, as well as installers and engineers.

Although Kentucky has a lot of coal and has the fourth cheapest energy of any state, “that doesn’t equate to low household expenses,” said McIlmoil. Energy costs in Kentucky have risen significantly over the past several years, which McIlmoil claims is because “the price of electricity has been pegged to the price of coal.” Kentucky’s continued dependence on coal will only lead to higher energy prices.

However, distributed renewables would add diversity to Kentucky’s energy portfolio and help stabilize prices, according to McIlmoil. KySEA supports policies that keep energy affordable, and small scale renewable energy has the potential to curb energy costs in the future. This would ultimately help Kentuckians and prevent low-income Kentuckians from dealing with the rising costs of coal.

In addition to improving the economy and environment, a transition to distributed, or decentralized, renewable energy democratizes energy production and generates more participation from Kentuckians, said McIlmoil.

Among the incentives and policy recommendations detailed in the Downstream Strategies report were instituting a renewable energy portfolio standard and a feed-in tariff. These two policies in particular would help make distributed energy possible.

A renewable energy portfolio standard requires that a certain amount of Kentucky’s energy come from renewable resources. The KySEA-supported Clean Energy Opportunity Act, a bill currently in Kentucky’s house, would make this possible by requiring 12.5% of electricity sales to come from renewable energy by 2022, and includes a solar set-aside of 1%.

A feed-in tariff would create a standard rate for electricity. Utilities companies then purchase surplus energy from households and communities at a stable price. This dependability would reduce risk and promote individual and small-scale energy production. The Clean Energy Opportunity Act would institute such a policy.

“Large scale investments in renewable energy would create thousands of new employment opportunities in manufacturing, sales, installation and other industries,” said Andy McDonald, Director of the Kentucky Solar Partnership, a KySEA member organization. “Kentucky should take advantage of the great opportunities outlined in this report to advance solar in our state.”

Jun 19, 2012

Kentucky Has Significant Distributed Renewable Energy Potential a new report finds

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 19, 2012 09:50 AM

Released 6.19.12

New Report Findings for Kentucky: 
Distributed renewable energy systems could generate up to 34 percent of Kentucky’s electricity by 2025


Frankfort, KY - Distributed renewable energy systems could generate up to 34 percent of Kentucky’s electricity by 2025, finds a new report authored by Downstream Strategies. According to the report findings this new generation would increase energy security in the state, diversify Kentucky’s energy portfolio, and curb energy costs for Kentucky ratepayers.

“Electricity prices have gone up 41% over the last 5 years and will continue to rise, threatening low-income families' ability to stay in their homes. We at Kentucky Habitat are not meeting our mission if a family can afford to buy a new home, but then down the road cannot stay in it due to rising utility costs,” says Ginger Watkins, Sustainable Building Specialist with Kentucky Habitat For Humanity. 

“The report outlines a series of practical solutions that are already out there.  Already we’re leveraging some of these solutions in our work, for example Morehead Habitat built a home with heating and cooling costs below $15 per month.  Affordable, quality, low-energy homes in Kentucky are not only possible, they’re already happening”.

Unlike traditional, centralized electricity generation like coal-burning power plants, distributed energy systems, such as solar panels on homes and businesses, generate electricity in smaller amounts for use close to the source. In addition to being clean sources of power, these systems reduce the amount of electricity lost through transmission and reduce the risk of blackouts.

“The Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy in Kentucky,” produced by Downstream Strategies of Morgantown, WV, finds that with the right policies in place, Kentucky can provide a significant portion of its electricity through small-scale wind, solar photovoltaics and solar heating and other distributed renewable energy technologies such as combined heat and power systems.

“Our study found that Kentucky has a wealth of renewable energy resources that can be harnessed today using proven and cost-competitive technologies,” said Rory McIlmoil, lead author of the report. “If Kentucky were to implement the policies we recommend, these resources could provide a significant amount of energy while diversifying local economies by generating thousands of local jobs. Kentucky is falling behind other Appalachian states such as Ohio in taking advantage of these opportunities.”

Policies like renewable portfolio standards, expanded net metering, feed-in tariffs and updated grid interconnection standards will make developing distributed renewable energy systems much more achievable and profitable for Kentucky's electric cooperatives, businesses and individuals. The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance has supported the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, which would advance policies aimed at boosting distributed energy, in the last two legislative sessions.

"The US market for solar photovoltaics doubled in 2011, driven by states like New Jersey and California with strong policies to support renewable energy and distributed generation,” said Andy McDonald, Director of the Kentucky Solar Partnership. “Kentucky should take advantage of the great opportunities outlined in this report to advance solar in our state by passing similar policies. Large scale investments in renewable energy would create thousands of new employment opportunities in manufacturing, sales, installation and other industries."
For more information about these policies, visit www.kysea.org.

Download the report here.


You are invited to join lead author of the report, " Rory McIlmoil, for a presentation about the report's findings.

Thursday, June 21st, 2012
7:30 -8:30 pm EDT
(No RSVP necessary)
Call: 1-866-740-1260
Access code: 8931147.
Online address: www.readytalk.com
Access code: 8931147. Put this into the box that says “Participant: Join a Conference”.


Jun 16, 2012

Join Us: "Kentucky's Distributed Energy Potential" Presentation

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 16, 2012 03:15 PM

Participate in a KySEA-sponsored webinar on Kentucky's Small-Scale Renewable Energy Potential.

June 21st, 2012
7:30 -8:30 pm EDT


Join us as Rory McIlmoil from Downstream Strategies presents the findings in his report, "The Opportunities for Distributed Energy in  Kentucky." The report finds that there are sufficient in-state renewable energy resources to provide the annual equivalent of 34% of the state’s electricity generation from small-scale distributed energy technologies alone by 2025.

No RSVP necessary.
Call: 1-866-740-1260
Access code: 8931147.

Online address: www.readytalk.com
Access code: 8931147. Put this into the box that says “Participant: Join a Conference”.

Jun 05, 2012

Raise Your Voice About Kentucky's Budget & Clean Energy

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 05, 2012 02:35 PM

Renewable energy and energy efficiency offer real opportunities for Kentucky to put people to work and get our economy back on track, curb our energy costs, and improve our health and well-being. A study released last year by Synapse Energy Economics suggested that Kentucky can create 28,000 jobs in 10 years in this sector. Tax policy is an essential tool to capitalize on Kentucky's clean energy potential.

A Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform has been appointed to study and build consensus around tax reforms that meet the guidelines of fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, elasticity and adequacy.  

As part of the process, the Commission will be holding Public Meetings across Kentucky. Kentuckians are invited to share their best ideas about needed state tax reforms--ideas that will shape the Commission's recommendations for the 2013 General Assembly.

Clean energy development is an important opportunity for the state's future that tax policy can help support. Use your voice to highlight the important connection between the state budget and the growth of sustainable energy in Kentucky.


Please plan to speak up in the meeting near you!

Blue Ribbon Commission Meetings

Southern Kentucky/Bowling Green: Tuesday June 19, 6-8 pm 
-- Greenwood High School Auditorium, 5065 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green

Louisville Area: Tuesday July 10, 6-8 pm -- 
Location TBA

Northern Kentucky: Tuesday July 24, 6-8 pm
 -- Student Union Ballroom, 20 Kenton Drive, Highland Heights

East KY: Tuesday Aug 7, 6-8 pm 
-- Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Gearheart Auditorium,1 Bert T Combs Drive, Prestonsburg
Central Kentucky/Lexington: Tuesday Aug 21, 6-8 pm
 Bryan Station High School, 201 Eastin   Road, Lexington

Here are some ideas about how about how our tax policy that can advance and support sustainable energy solutions:

1. Increase revenue fairly in order to improve funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, while not placing additional burden on those Kentuckians already hit hardest by rising energy costs.

Kentucky has had successful programs that weatherize homes, provide energy audits, and support pilot projects around renewable energy and energy efficiency.  The state plays an important role in helping catalyze new ideas and provide energy services to those not otherwise served, including low-income Kentuckians. Some of those efforts have been funded with Recovery Act and other federal monies. But that funding has now ended or been cut, and the state lacks the resources to continue those successful efforts and maintain our momentum. That is one reason why any tax reform effort should result in more revenue for these needs in addition to the state's many other needs in education, health and other areas.

Any plan to raise revenue should also adhere to the Commission's stated guideline of fairness. Low and moderate income Kentuckians are already hardest hit by the rapidly rising costs of energy in our state. They should benefit from additional revenue to support sustainable, cost-curbing energy efforts, not shoulder the costs.
 
2. Include targeted incentives to clean energy development as part of tax reform.

Many consumer investments in clean energy make good economic sense along with the benefits they provide for health and the environment. But sometimes the up-front cost of those investments can be a barrier to consumers and businesses. Well-designed, targeted incentives that reduce the cost to consumers of investments in things like insulation, energy efficient appliances, and small-scale renewable energy systems can help overcome those barriers, and would be a positive addition to a tax reform plan.
 
3. Eliminate unfair subsidies to polluting energy sources in a tax reform plan.

Kentucky provides tax subsidies that unfairly give preference to fossil fuels, and taxes the severance of coal at levels lower than many other states and lower than their true cost to our communities. The state's tax expenditure report lists 19 different tax preferences under the category of "Energy Development and Coal Industry Support" and 14 under the category "Environmental Conservation and Historical Preservation," many of which are also energy or coal related. But these tax preferences receive practically no scrutiny. We could save money for needed investments by closely reviewing these and other tax preferences and eliminating those that move Kentucky in the wrong direction.

 

Written Comments

You can leave written comments on the topic at the Commission's website.

Some Additional Resources:
Kentucky Tax Expenditure Report: Details just what we have been spending our money on over the years.

Impact of Coal on Kentucky’s State Budget:  Details that Kentucky spent $115 million more on coal (through direct spending and tax breaks) than we brought in from revenue from coal in 2006. By Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

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Organizing for Clean Energy in Kentucky's Coal Fields Organizing for Clean Energy in Kentucky's Coal Fields

In the history of coal in America, Harlan County, Kentucky is legendary for its coal heritage, especially for the efforts of its people to organize for better living and working conditions. Labor unrest in the 1930s led to the county being referred to as “Bloody Harlan.” That same passion for progress and tradition of organizing continues today as Harlan County residents work to diversify their energy economy.

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