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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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Kristin Tracz

Jan 12, 2012

New study shows diversifying into clean energy can create 28,000 jobs and save Kentuckians on electric bills in the future

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 12, 2012 08:21 AM

A new study estimates that in 10 years Kentucky could create over 28,000 jobs while lessening the growth of electricity bills by passing clean energy legislation currently in front of the General Assembly.

A new study estimates that in 10 years Kentucky could create over 28,000 jobs while lessening the growth of electricity bills by passing clean energy legislation currently in front of the General Assembly. Synapse Energy Economics produced the study, which is an analysis of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB 167) introduced by Representative Mary Lou Marzian.

 “This study confirms that legislation to diversify our electricity portfolio would be economically beneficial to Kentucky,” said Justin Maxson, President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). “The bill would allow the state to hedge against increasing rates by making homes and businesses more energy efficient. And it would spur the creation of clean energy jobs installing renewable energy projects and making energy efficiency upgrades.”

“The era of cheap energy is coming to an end,” said Maxson, “and it is really a question of whether we in Kentucky take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the clean energy economy of the future.”

Synapse’s study is a high level analysis of the proposed legislation’s impacts on Kentucky’s electricity bills, jobs, and economy. The study concludes that making small but significant steps to begin diversifying Kentucky’s portfolio over the next ten years will lower the bills of Kentucky’s residents, business owners, and industrial facilities compared to their bills without a clean energy standard.

Synapse projects that, under the REPS, average annual electricity bills could be eight percent to 10 percent lower than under a do nothing scenario. In addition to saving Kentuckians money, the REPS would lead to over 28,000 net new jobs over and above any jobs lost in fossil fuels and add $1.5 billion to gross state product once fully implemented in 2022.

 “Efficiency and renewables are already the emerging trend in construction in the Commonwealth,” said Kentucky solar entrepreneur Matt Partymiller of Solar Energy Solutions in Lexington. “This report by Synapse captures what Kentucky engineers and contractors already know and what other states have already seen. Legislation like the Clean Energy Opportunity Act will provide the tools necessary for Kentucky builders to create jobs while ensuring Kentucky energy costs stay low.”

The study’s findings are supported by what neighboring states that have passed similar legislation have experienced. North Carolina has seen tremendous growth in the number of clean energy firms operating in their state since passing an REPS in 2007. Ohio built on the strengths of its traditional manufacturing sector to start building clean energy equipment in state, and reap real economic benefits from their 2008 law.

Synapse carried out the study for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, a Berea based economic development organization, and the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, a coalition of over 50 businesses, affordable housing advocates, non-profit organizations and faith based groups. MACED and KySEA wanted to understand the economic impacts of an REPS in Kentucky, and a comprehensive analysis of a bill like the Clean Energy Opportunity Act has not been part of the policy conversation until now.

The report can be accessed at

Jan 06, 2012

2012 Clean Energy Opportunity Act Filed -- HB 167!

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 06, 2012 02:00 PM
Filed Under:

Representative Mary Lou Marzian (D-Jefferson) filed the 2012 Clean Energy Opportunity Act!  Be on the lookout for updates on HB 167 -- this year's Clean Energy Opportunity Act.  You can visit the LRC website for progress updates, or stay tuned here on the KySEA website as we continue to show our support for strong clean energy policy in Kentucky!

WEKU: New Business Model for Solar Energy

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 06, 2012 09:19 AM
Filed Under:

This entry is cross-posted from the Appalachian Transition blog, where it appeared 1/5/12.

WEKU featured a story on the Berea Municipal solar farm yesterday, quoting Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance members from Solar Energy Solutions, MACED, and Alternative Energies Kentucky.  We're thrilled to see the Berea solar farm up and running, and glad good coverage like this story (and yesterday's post about Rockcastle Regional hospital's solar installation) are helping to show that solar powers Kentucky.  Congrats to all involved in this innovative, interesting project.


New Business Model for Solar Energy

In December, billionaire Warren Buffet made his first move into solar power, buying one of the world's largest solar farms, which is in California. Market watchers wondered if this was a sign that solar was coming of age, that it was no longer a "feel good" nod to environmental correctness but a sensible investment. Still, California isn't Kentucky and Buffet is hardly an average ratepayer. So, we looked at how solar was faring in the Commonwealth.

For many, solar just makes sense. Every day enough sunlight falls on the earth to provide energy independence for years. Solar promoters say it's just a matter of capturing that energy and turning it into power that can run everything from light bulbs to play stations. Of course it's not as simple as it sounds. In Kentucky, it's even less simple. After all, people reason, this isn't the Southwest where the sun shines all year round.  And coal has long provided us with some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

Still, solar is beginning to make its mark here and advocates predict there's more to come. Matt Partymiller a gray beard of Kentucky's solar energy industry, having started his solar energy solutions six years ago…

"We started out with two of us part time and six years later there are now ten of us full time and we hope to continue to develop that. If we continue to develop the way we have we'll be at 20 next year and that'll be great."

Partymiller says solar’s more competitive, even in Kentucky.

"We are seeing the cost of solar come down, we are seeing the speed at which solar is installed improve and we are seeing electric rates going up. It's just a matter of time before we as an industry end up competitive."

During his six years in the business, Partymiller says the cost of solar panels has been cut in half. 

His firm has just completed installing a unique solar system in Berea. The city-owned electric utility built a solar farm and offered shares to its customers.

In the first phase, an array of 60 solar panels was installed outside the municipal utility building.  For $750, utility customers can buy all the power generated by a single panel for 25 years.

Berea's the first community in Kentucky and one of the first in the nation to offer this approach. It has several advantages for solar-inclined ratepayers. First, it doesn't matter if a house has good sun exposure. Second, it's cheaper because there’s an economy of scale.  The cost is about $3.30 a watt compared to $5 to $6 if installed on a home.  Third, if ratepayers move within the utility's service area, the credit on their bill moves with them. Fourth, if they move outside the area, they can simply sell the balance of their leases to other customers.

No one was prepared for the reaction when the leases went on sale. Josh Bills, who’s a consultant with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, helped Berea design the system.

"It was really quite shocking to everybody involved, the utility, the contractors, the public, the council that the system leased out so quickly. There are 60 modules, there's a limit of two modules…..and in four days all 60 leases were subscribed."

The first array, as a group of solar panels is called, cost about $64,000 installed and was financed in part with federal stimulus money. Encouraged by the strong sales, Berea used the money from those leases to begin construction on a second array that is also selling rapidly.

Cool as this all sounds, customers are still bidding on a long payback. Assuming electric prices increase at the rate of 10 percent a year, it will take Berea ratepayers 23 years to recover their $750. For companies and individuals who can take advantage of tax breaks or subsidies on their projects, the payback could shrink to 8 to 10 years. With no moving parts, solar installations have limited maintenance, so the cost of electricity remains virtually the same over the entire life, which can be well over 25 years.

John Cotten directs marketing for Alternative Energies Kentucky.  It’s a Danville firm that manufactures and installs solar panels.

"It isn't dirt cheap, we're not going to tell anybody it is. You are making a longterm investment. It's no different if you were building a room addition on your house, you're not going to get the money back until you sell your house. In this case, though, you are going to start getting a return as soon as we turn the power back on….and that investment is going to last 25 to 50 years."

Cotten says the long payback is not as big an issue as whether there's enough sunlight in this sometimes gray state to make solar worthwhile.

"There is plenty of sunlight in Kentucky. That's a really large fallacy. We could probably retire with our company for every time we've heard that from different people but it's really not true. …actually the largest solar nation in the world right now is Germany. Germany's productive sunlight average per day is about 2.2 to 2.8 hours a day, Kentucky's runs anywhere from about 4.5 to 5.5 hours a day."

The problem in Kentucky, many experts say, is that we’re energy hogs. Conservation, they say, is the first and cheapest approach to reducing energy costs.

Steve Whitman, who’s the project manager on the Berea project…

"The first thing I tell everybody is do the easy things first. Tighten up your windows, get your insulation where it should be in your attic and your walls, do the caulking, do the steps that you should take to improve your energy efficiency. Then, if you have funds left over, this is one of the best longterm investments you can give to yourself." 

For Whitman, it's all about taking control of your energy future.

"I've been an electrician for over 35 years and I've been involved with solar for a little over a year….i think the key for the future is energy conservation…American's like to be empowered. If you realize that you could install a solar system and tie it into your home and see the savings and see the other ways you can save, I just think it's a way to empower people to do what you should be doing anyway."

To learn more about the Berea solar farm, go to

Jan 04, 2012

Solar Powered Health: Rockcastle Regional State's First Solar Powered Hospital

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 04, 2012 10:48 AM

Rockcastle Regional Hospital adds solar power to further commitment in creating a healthy community.

This entry is cross posted from the Appalachian Transition blog.

Business Lexington has a story today on Rockcastle Regional Hospital's new solar array.  It is a great example of a community institution taking advantage of clean energy opportunities in Kentucky--we hope to see other hospitals and community institutions following in the footsteps of Rockcastle Regional soon!

From BizLex:

Rockcastle Regional State's First Solar Powered Hospital

Mt. Vernon, Ky - Rockcastle Regional Hospital has become the first hospital in Kentucky to use the sun as a major energy source.

The hospital went live with a solar array on November 30, 2011, incorporating solar power into its energy management plan and reducing its reliance on the public power grid.

Rockcastle Regional Hospital CEO Stephen A. Estes said the investment fits into the hospital's mission of creating a healthy community.

 Rock Hosp pic

Facilities and Materials Management Director Gary Asher and CEO Stephen A. Estes with the new solar panels.

"We've built our organization on forward-thinking innovation. Now we've applied that mindset to energy management, and it creates a win-win for us and the community in the long term," Estes said. "As corporate citizens, we feel an obligation to conserve energy, and doing so frees more resources for patient care and wellness initiatives."

Discussions took place with several companies and Green Earth Solar of Knoxville, Tennessee was awarded the contract. Green Earth Solar was launched in 2006 and has completed dozens of solar projects including dairies, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, parks and residential areas. Rockcastle Regional is the company's first hospital project. 

Two hundred and ten solar modules have been installed on the roof of the hospital's Outpatient Services Center.  The modules will produce around 290 watts each (60.9 kW total) and will account for enough energy annually to power eight to ten homes.  Kentucky Utilities will purchase the power generated. 

The solar panels essentially will power the third floor of the Outpatient Services Center, which is a space that will be utilized for community wellness events.  The panels will also provide an educational experience for local students. 

Opening its doors in 1956, Rockcastle Regional Hospital & Respiratory Care Center is a not-for-profit community healthcare system that operates emergency, 26-bed inpatient acute beds and outpatient acute care programs, a 93-bed long-term care program for patients dependent upon mechanical ventilation and a medical office complex. For more information about the hospital, visit

Jan 03, 2012

2012 Clean Energy Opportunity Act Filed!

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 03, 2012 07:45 PM
Filed Under:

Look out for HB 167!

Representative Mary Lou Marzian (D-Jefferson) filed the 2012 Clean Energy Opportunity Act!  Be on the lookout for updates on HB 167 -- this year's Clean Energy Opportunity Act.  You can visit the LRC website for progress updates, or stay tuned here on the KySEA website as we continue to show our support for strong clean energy policy in Kentucky!

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).



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!


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.


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.

Dec 30, 2010

Green Jobs--Not Just for Blue States

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Dec 30, 2010 10:46 AM

KySEA member Kristin Tracz wrote this op-ed for; it is reposted here:

The Climate Bill is dead. Comprehensive action on energy and climate change issues is not likely to come from the federal government any time soon. One of the oft-repeated opposition mantras is that times are too tough to think about climate action – and the costs that curbing emissions might impose would heavily impact those who can afford additional costs the least.


Dec 09, 2010

Registration Open: Kentucky Clean Energy Summit

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Dec 09, 2010 09:30 AM

A day to explore effective clean energy policies and their benefits for Kentuckians. Sponsored by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance.

Save the Date: Jan 31, 2011 for the Kentucky Clean Energy Summit.  The day-long Summit will be held at the Campbell House Crowne Plaza in Lexington.  See for agenda information and registration--we hope you can join us!

Nov 22, 2010

Building Clean Energy Careers in Kentucky

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Nov 22, 2010 09:13 AM

A new report by MACED, Building Clean Energy Careers in Kentucky, notes that Kentucky has real potential for job creation in the clean energy economy, but needs changes in energy policy to make those jobs grow and improvements in workforce development to allow more Kentuckians to get the skills needed for those jobs.

A new report by MACED, Building Clean Energy Careers in Kentucky, notes that Kentucky has real potential for job creation in the clean energy economy, but needs changes in energy policy to make those jobs grow and improvements in workforce development to allow more Kentuckians to get the skills needed for those jobs.

 “The emerging clean energy economy has real potential for Kentucky in terms of economic development and job creation opportunities,” said Justin Maxson, President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). “But we need stronger state energy policy to grow the demand for workers along with a workforce development infrastructure that meets the sector’s skill needs in ways that low-income Kentuckians can access.”

The report surveys recent studies about the job opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency in Kentucky and focuses on the role of workforce development as part of an overall approach to a clean energy economy. The report highlights the importance of a coordinated workforce development strategy built on solid information that maps emerging career pathways in the sector, and underscores the importance of policies that build bridges to new training opportunities for low-income, low-skilled Kentuckians.

Noting the necessary role of stronger state energy policy in spurring job growth and sustaining job opportunities, the report emphasizes that job training is effective only if aligned with a deliberate job creation effort. The report makes recommendations for energy policy change that would support a strong market for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Kentucky, including establishing a portfolio standard for renewable energy generation and energy efficiency savings while expanding financing to spur investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy among energy developers, businesses, institutions and homeowners throughout the Commonwealth.

MACED authored Building Clean Energy Careers in Kentucky as part of the Working Poor Families Project, a national initiative supported by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce, and C.S. Mott Foundations to examine the conditions of America’s working families. 

Oct 19, 2010

KREC to Host Economic Development Forum on Renewable Energy in Kentucky

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Oct 19, 2010 01:30 PM

Registration is now open.

From the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium:

Economic Development Forum on Renewable Energy in Kentucky

Join us on November 17th to see how Kentucky can attract investments and create “green jobs” by developing comprehensive energy and funding strategies that will prepare its infrastructure and workforce to be ready for this global transition.

November 17, 2010 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. ET

at Berea College

Alumni Building Activities Room
Berea, KY 40404
Renewable energy is emerging as an industry in its own right – one that will provide a wide variety of jobs and investment opportunities as the industry grows. How can Kentucky benefit economically from a rapidly expanding clean energy economy?

The Forum will explore:

  • Economic drivers for renewable energy
  • Opportunities to develop Kentucky’s workforce to meet the industry’s current and future employment needs 
  • Funding and investment opportunities that a clean energy economy might provide 
  • Challenges for businesses, utilities and energy consumers


Berea College President Dr. Larry Shinn will provide opening remarks at the forum, followed by speakers from Kentucky’s Department for Energy Development and Independence, the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, the USDA Rural Development Division and speakers from renewable energy businesses and Kentucky utility companies.

Fee: Workshop cost is $15 per person*.

Fee includes continental breakfast and lunch. (Payable by Visa, MasterCard or check. All payments must be paid by the workshop date.  Please remit check to KPPC, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, Attn: Economic Development Forum.)

*If you are interested in attending but need assistance with the $15 fee, please contact KPPC for scholarship availability.

Registration Information

ONLINE: Register for the workshop.

If you are unable to register online, you may choose another method below.

BY PHONE: 502-852-0965 or 800-334-8635 ext. 8520965

BY E-MAIL: with subject: Economic Development Forum


Sign-in and continental breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m., the Forum begins at 9:00 a.m.

Campus Map and Directions

Campus map




Accommodations are available near Berea College.


The Forum is sponsored by KPPC, the Tennessee Valley and Eastern Kentucky Wind Working Group, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence and Energizing Kentucky.


Oct 01, 2010

KySEA Membership Meeting to be held Oct 12: Join Us!

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Oct 01, 2010 09:07 AM
Filed Under:

Save the date 10/12 for a day-long KySEA Mtg!

KySEA will meet at 9:30am for a daylong meeting about strategy, communications and biomass policy at the Lexington Libary -- Northside branch, located at 1733 Russell Cave Road.  Please join us if you can make it!  You can RSVP here.  Members will receive additional information and an agenda in the coming days.  If you are not a KySEA member and are interested in attending the October 12 meeting, please email for additional information.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Helps Families Thrive Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Helps Families Thrive

People's Self Help Housing has been providing affordable housing opportunities to families in Lewis County since 1982. PSHH knows that "affordability" is defined by more than just the mortgage. If a home is energy inefficient, the utility bills become too high for a low-income family to afford. As a result, PSHH has long-built highly energy efficient homes, helping the families they serve to thrive. PSHH has also recently built some of the first affordable homes in the region with renewable energy systems. Given that so many low-income KY families live in energy inefficient homes, combining affordability, efficiency and renewable energy is a recipe for success that benefits everyone.


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