All Our Eggs in One Basket
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.