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"At a time when the price of energy continues to rise, affording to keep homes warm becomes an issue that unites a broad range of families, but the burden is disproportionately devastating to low-income residents. MHC is dedicated to ensuring safe, fair and affordable housing choices for all residents, which includes utility costs."

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Nancy Reinhart

Jul 18, 2012

Indiana Renewable Energy Trainings in August

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 18, 2012 01:40 PM

solar panelsThe Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has 2 workshops coming up close to us! If you want some job skills for the new green economy or are considering a system for your home, farm, or business, check them out. Registration fees are very reasonable & support a terrific organization doing terrific work.

Click the links below for details.

G 101.02 Introduction to Renewable Energy
Monday, August 6, Nashville, Indiana
In this half-day course, participants will receive a broad overview of what renewable energy is, how it works, and what it can do for you. Topics will include passive solar design, solar electric systems, solar thermal systems, and wind electric systems.
 
PV 101.12 Basic Photovoltaics
Tuesday, August 7, Nashville, Indiana
This one-day course uses a combination of lecture and classroom activities to teach the basics of solar electric systems. Participants will learn how photovoltaic (PV) systems work, diagram the four PV system types, describe and identify components, understand the best application and limitations of each system type, define the solar window, make energy efficiency recommendations, estimate system loads, and understand the basics of PV site assessment.

Prepared by KySEA member Amanda Fuller

Jul 12, 2012

Solar energy put to work on Hart County farms

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 12, 2012 02:05 PM

“If anyone tells you solar energy doesn’t work in Kentucky, they are wrong. It’s all about a balance of what you use and what you produce,” says Sam Avery.

Avery FarmhouseAnd he has the proof. His farmhouse in Upton, Kentucky, touts several solar features, including a water heater, thermal heating system and rooftop photovoltaic panels.

Sam and his wife, Bonnie, built the house in 1978, shortly after purchasing the tract of land in Hart County. Along with a couple dozen friends, they did so as a part of the “back to the land” movement. Sam incorporated passive and active solar into the design of the home from the start.


Electricity-free hydraulic pump sends 10 gallons of water per hour to the house from the nearby stream

“These things just seemed common sense to me when I built the house,” Sam said to a crowd of 35 that gathered at his farmhouse on Friday, July 6. A mix of farmers and friends toured the farm to learn about how each of the home’s renewable energy systems works.

Several people climbed up on the roof to see the solar panels and the large tank in the attic peak that holds the home’s hot water. Another group walked down the hill to understand how the electric-free hydraulic pump that brings water up the hill from a nearby stream works.

Guests on Avery Roof Seeing Solar panels

Through his business Avery and Sun, Sam, a trained installer, has put solar systems on other homes in the area as well. Two years ago, he installed a system on the home of neighbors Wendy and Dennis Price that produces as much electricity as they use.

Wendy likes how easily the solar panels replaced their reliance on coal-burning grid-based electricity. “You don’t notice anything different at all, except a few clicks at dawn and dusk when the system comes on and turns off,” she said.

Everyone at the party was a customer of EKPC’s rural electric cooperatives – living in either the Nolin RECC or Farmers RECC district. As a result, the group was particularly interested to learn about efforts to Renew East Kentucky, a campaign to shift the rural electric co-ops toward a culture of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Sam noted that getting involved in reforming local electric co-ops is a good place to start advocating for clean energy. “As you know, the co-ops are in fact democratic. But as long as the lights go on, most people don’t think about the fact that we are owners of them,” Sam said.

Crowd at AverysThe Averys also encouraged people to understand more about the source of their electricity by  lobbying their legislators for better state clean energy policy.

Having joined the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance as a business member, Sam has been particularly active in advocating for the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, a bill in the Kentucky legislature that would establish a renewable and efficiency portfolio standard and feed-in tariffs for Kentucky.

Sam described himself to the crowd as someone who is not a “joiner.” But he said he continues to volunteer his time around clean energy advocacy because he believes it will work.

“It takes people organized, people writing letters, it takes time. We’ll have progressive energy legislation in this state – we will have it.”

 

Facts about the Avery farmhouse:

  • 
Built in 1978
  • 
 Insulation layer outside of stone walls creates a thermal wrap
  • 
Large windowed front foyer is heated by passive solar and provides an energy efficient air buffer
  • 
Solar thermal collector provides ½ the home's heat and heats a below-ground greenhouse
  • Has solar hot water heater
  • 
Rooftop solar panels produce 16 kilowatt hours per day in peak conditions (more than the home uses)
 
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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.

May 30, 2012

Bipartisan Majority Want Clean Power

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 30, 2012 02:13 PM

Republished from Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a KySEA member.

A new national survey shows overwhelming and bipartisan support for clean energy policies that go far beyond what is currently in place, especially in Kentucky.

More than 80 percent of the 1,019 people asked agreed with the statement: “The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future.” The favorable response included 69 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 95 percent of Democrats.

green energy our future sign

The survey further defined that policy as “one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well being of all Americans.”

“It is apparent that Americans overwhelmingly favor clean and renewable energy,” said Steve Sanders, director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, which co-released the survey findings in Kentucky with the Civil Society Institute and KFTC. “For Kentucky, that means we must plan now for a future which is much less dependent on coal as a source of electric power.”

Nearly as many respondents (75 percent) agreed that “Congress and state public utility commissions that regulate electric utilities should put more emphasis on renewable energy and increased energy efficiency … and less emphasis on major investments in new nuclear, coal and natural gas plants.” This included 58 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 86 percent of Democrats.

“These results show that people all over the country want clean energy and it’s time for Kentucky to catch up with other states to make cleaner energy affordable and accessible to people who want to invest in that,” said Amanda Fuller, a KFTC member in Louisville.

“Renewable Portfolio Standards and feed-in tariffs are two initiatives that we can do right now that don’t cost our state any money,” Fuller pointed out. Those initiatives were included in the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, legislation that received a hearing but no vote in the recently adjourned session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that “(t)he energy industry's extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying  machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America’s energy policy.”

listen to the people sign

“We’re losing jobs,” Fuller said, noting that the contractor who installed solar electric and solar hot water systems on her house is challenged to find enough work to stay in business. “There are skilled people who have the technical backgrounds who are out of work because we don’t have the policies that support clean energy.”

An independent study released in January concluded that passage of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act would result in 28,000 new jobs in Kentucky over the next 10 years.

The clean energy survey was conducted by phone March 22-25 by ORC International for the Civil Society Institute. Respondents were 506 men and 513 women 18 years of age and older.

The questions went well beyond a simple "Do you favor or oppose ____ policies" often taken in such surveys, explained Pam Solo, president of the Civil Society Institute. She said the results show how deeply Americans understand what's at stake in our energy decisions.

A report with the survey findings is available here.

May 10, 2012

Clean Energy Opportunity Act Video Is Up!

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 10, 2012 11:34 AM

Interested in learning more about the primary bill that KySEA supports - the Clean Energy Opportunity Act? View a video podcast of the "Introduction to the Clean Energy Opportunity Act" webinar KySEA hosted on January 19th, 2012 here.

May 08, 2012

Upcoming Solar Energy Workshops

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 08, 2012 02:33 PM

The Kentucky Solar Partnership and Appalachia – Science in the Public Interest, with the support of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Johnson Controls, Inc., the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service, and Kentucky State University, present a series of introductory and advanced training classes on solar photovoltaic system design and installation practices.
 
Full workshop descriptions and registration information can be found at www.kysolar.org. Financial support with low-interest loans covering up to 100% of registration fees plus grants for travel expenses is available to residents of eastern Kentucky, thanks to the support from MACED.
 
Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics
May 8-9, 2012           
8:30 am – 5:00 pm            
Fee:   $275
Instructor: Chris LaForge, ISPQ Certified PV Instructor
      NABCEP Certified PV Installer
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601
 
Solar Site Assessments and PV System Design       
May 10, 2012
8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Fee:   $140
Instructor: Chris LaForge, ISPQ Certified PV Instructor
      NABCEP Certified PV Installer
Prerequisite: Introduction to Photovoltaics or equivalent prior training or experience
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601
 
Solar Photovoltaics & the National Electric Code
May 11, 2012
8:00 am – 4:00 pm            
Fee:   $140
Instructor: Chris LaForge, ISPQ Certified PV Instructor
      NABCEP Certified PV Installer
Prerequisite: Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics or equivalent prior training or experience
(Code officials require no prerequisites)
For Installers, Code Officials, Inspectors, and Building Professionals
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601

Introduction to Solar Water Heaing
June 5-6, 2012
8:30 am – 5:00 pm each day      
Fee:   $275
Instructor: Bill Guiney, Director of Solar Heating & Cooling, Johnson Controls, Inc.
Prerequisite: none
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601 

Solar Industry Trends & New Technologies
June 7, 2012
8:30 am – 12:00 pm            
Fee:   $100
Instructor: Bill Guiney, Director of Solar Heating & Cooling, Johnson Controls, Inc.
Prerequisite: none
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601


Advanced Solar Photovoltaics Hands-On Installation Training
July 10-12, 2012               
8:30am – 5:00 pm each day          
Fee:   $415
Instructor: Chris LaForge, ISPQ Certified PV Instructor
      NABCEP Certified PV Installer
Prerequisites: Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics or equivalent prior training or experience.
Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office
101 Lakeview Court, Frankfort, KY 40601

To learn more, contact the Kentucky Solar Partnership at 502-227-4562 or solar@kysolar.org.

NABCEP Training Hours: Participants will earn training hours to use towards the eligibility requirements for the NABCEP Solar PV Installer certification exam.

CEU’s available for Kentucky licensed Master Electricians and Electrical Electricians for Introduction to Solar PV; Solar Site Assessments and PV System Design; and Solar PV and the National Electric Code.
 

Legislature again passed up chance to help farmers cut energy costs

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 08, 2012 02:23 PM

By Adam Barr, member of Community Farm Alliance

http://www.kentucky.com/2012/04/09/2144427/legislature-again-passed-up-chance.html#storylink=cpy


Kentucky's legislature missed a great opportunity in this year's session to help farmers and rural communities.

As both a seventh-generation family farmer and a young farmer in Meade County, I know firsthand that energy has increasingly become an important and costly factor in our operation. We use energy every day on the farm. Energy is the fuel for our tractors and trucks. It is the electricity that runs our irrigators and refrigerators, and it lights our barns and homes. And these days especially, the cost of using energy adds up quickly.

Things are beginning to change. Increasingly, farmers like me see the opportunity to turn energy into an on-farm asset instead of being an off-farm liability.

For instance, on my farm we have used Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund grant money to power our irrigation pumps with solar energy.

Kentucky could do so much more to help farmers and rural communities offset energy costs. We could even turn energy into another farm product.

I, and the other members of Community Farm Alliance, endorsed House Bill 167 and House Bill 187, as a reasonable way to create new jobs in our rural communities and put Kentucky on track for a secure energy future.

HB 167 would have set modest goals for renewable energy use and energy efficiency in Kentucky similar to what 29 other states have already done. It also would have provided market incentives that help farmers like me become energy producers, making my family farm more profitable and Kentucky more energy secure.

HB 187 would have expanded Kentucky's net metering law from its 30-kilowatt limit to increase the ability of businesses, schools, local governments and farmers like me to produce their own power.

Net-metering allows Kentuckians to connect renewable energy systems like biomass, solar, wind or hydroelectric to the electric grid. When a system generates power, some or all of it is used on-site. Any excess flows back to the grid and is credited to the customer's account. Customers do not get paid for producing excess power.

That bill also would have allowed us to partner with investors to produce our own power, something that cash-strapped farmers could really use.

Regrettably, both bills once again received a "for discussion-only" hearing in the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee.

This missed opportunity is upsetting. As my generation looks to the future, too many of our leaders appear to be stuck in the past.

May 01, 2012

Cincinnati Transitions to 100% Renewable Electricity

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 01, 2012 11:41 AM

More than 50,000 commercial and residential electricity users in Cincinnatians hired a new electricity company this week - one that aims to power the city on 100% clean energy.

Cincinnati is the first city in Ohio and the first of its size to move to 100% clean energy. The city's manager expects the average eligible household's bill to decrease by $133 as a result.

The customers will leave Duke Energy, which relies heavily on coal-burning power, and go to First Energy Solutions. A portion of the city's power will now come from local renewable sources, such as rooftop solar and solar power from the Cincinnati Zoo Solar Canopy project and the rest will come from renewable energy credits. Ohio has local renewable energy projects to provide electricity in part because of its state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - a policy similar to the one KySEA supports passing in Kentucky.

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are generated when renewable energy comes online in the grid somewhere else and First Energy Solutions will purchase them in the amount needed to offset the remainder of the city's electricity use. RECs are a market mechanism that supports the growth of renewable energy projects.

When given a choice on the ballot last year, Cincinnati residents overwhelmingly voted to allow the city to bargain for electricity on behalf of its residents. This enabled the city to drop its contract with Duke and to find a new provider. Ohio's utility market, unlike Kentucky's, is largely deregulated, allowing such a ballot effort to go forward.

Read more here.

 

Apr 17, 2012

The myth of baseload power

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 17, 2012 02:10 PM

The article, "Why baseload power is doomed" by Chris Nelder gives an excellent rebuttal to a myth we hear commonly in Kentucky - that renewable energy cannot replace "baseload" electric power.

The author opens, "A persistent myth about the challenges of integrating renewable power into the grid is that because solar and wind are intermittent, grid operators need to maintain full generation capacity from “baseload” plants powered by coal and nuclear."

But, "The notion that renewables cannot provide baseload power is really an artifact of the way the grid and its regulators have evolved," he says.

(Baseload power generators are large units that provide most of the electricity to the grid. They rarely shut down, providing most of the "base load" of power, hence the name. In Kentucky, these are mostly coal-burning plants. When consumers draw more electricity from the grid than those plants can provide, utilities fire up additional units, usually fueled by natural gas, to provide the extra electricity needed to meet demand.)

In the article, the author describes why much of today's existing grid is not "smart." It grew up around demand, rather than in a planned, logical fashion. Lines went up haphazardly, starting in populations centers and then reaching out to rural areas as demand grew. As the grid grew, so did a very complex system of connecting and regulating it - one which includes several different agencies in each of several overlapping U.S. "grid territories."

This haphazard design makes grid technicians' jobs very tricky and makes them therefore resistant to the type of innovation that is required to bring large-scale renewable energy online.

"Grid operators have one overriding, fearsome task: They must maintain enough supply from this very complex system, within a narrow range of frequencies and voltages, to meet constantly fluctuating demand at all times. Therefore they tend to be risk-averse, preferring to stick with what they know to be reliable, and avoiding innovation.

Before the advent of renewables, generating power was a pretty straightforward task: When demand increased, you just added more fuel to an engine. With renewables, the task is reversed: The engines (wind turbines and solar collectors) ramp up and down of their own accord, and grid operators must adjust to accommodate their output."

So we need to get a smarter grid across the U.S. - one that provides real time information - and use the good models already out there to better predict how and when renewables will output power. It's a dance that we can master if we're willing to try.

"If all generators were able to ramp up and down on demand, and if grid operators were able to predict reliably when and where the sun would be shining and the wind would be blowing, accommodating any amount of power from renewables would be no problem."

Many states and countries successfully integrated large portions of renewable energy into the grid successfully. The author discusses several such examples including Germany and Texas. These places are proving and will continue to prove what is possible while places that hesitate to act are left behind.

We cannot ignore that some sectors of our economy stand to gain if we remain locked into the old system of electric power, but, Nelder says, the facts about what is technically possible remain firmly on the side of renewable energy supporters.

"The attachment to our antiquated architecture of power generation and grid management is simply a failure of imagination and innovation," Nelder concludes.

Apr 13, 2012

In the news...

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 13, 2012 01:08 PM

Solar manufacturing jobs come to Edmonson County, KY
Taggart Solar LLC recently announced that it plans to locate a manufacturing plant in Edmonson County. A $440,000 investment, the plant will sustain 30 full-time workers. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to Edmonson and several other Kentucky counties, offers large financial incentives for renewable energy production in it service area. These incentives make it more attractive for solar manufacturing companies to locate there.

Kentucky Center to install Green Roof
The Kentucky Center for the Arts plans to “green” its 76,000 square foot roof quite literally. It will be covered with a special type of soil and sedum plants, which soak up water and provide insulation lowers air- conditioning bills. Center staff hopes to implement a pubic education project along with the new roof. An estimated 500,000 people visit the center each year.


U.S. Department of Defense Spends Big on Clean Energy
The U.S. Department of Defense invested billions in clean energy innovations between 2006 and 2009 – an increase of nearly 200% from pre-2006 spending levels. Projects include major efficiency efforts and large renewable installations at bases. For example, DoD is partnering with Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative to make efficiency improvements and install solar and geo-thermal systems at the Fort Knox base.  (Department of Defense Accelerates Clean Energy Innovation to Save Lives, Money, Pew Study 2011.)

Dec 21, 2011

Sustainable Energy Briefs

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Dec 21, 2011 08:16 PM

Kentucky falls in national energy efficiency ranking
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently ranked 37th out of all states on its annual state energy efficiency scorecard. This represents a step down from previous years’ rankings. In 2010, Kentucky was 36th and in 2009 it was 33rd. The rankings are based on an array of metrics including state levels of funding towards energy efficiency and best practices in state energy efficiency policy and program implementation.

Fort Knox Army Base partners with EKPC’s Nolin Rural Electric Co-op to Install Clean Energy Systems
Over the last two years, Fort Knox has partnered with the co-op to create a plan to reduce energy use 35% by this year. The plan included energy efficiency upgrades, a major solar installation, and a geo-thermal heating and cooling system placed in the base barracks. Annual savings from the energy plan is estimated to be $2.8 million. Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Industrial Efficiency Efforts in Richmond, KY Saves Money For Sherwin Williams Plant
Sherwin-Williams is the largest producer of paint in the United States today.  The company owns over 3,000 stores throughout North America, with one of its largest plants located in Richmond, KY.  The Kentucky-based Sherwin Williams plant is doing something unique – it’s leading the way on industrial efficiency.

In 2008, via a partnership with the Division of Energy’s Industrial Technology Program, Sherwin William began the process of launching an energy reduction program.  By the 2010 the plant had reduced its total energy consumption by over 25% - with the potential to reduce energy intensity to 50% as more improvements are brought online.  Source: Personal interview by Lauren McGrath of Sierra Club with plant engineer

Energy Improvements Can Save Money and Create Jobs in Cincinnati Area, Study finds
Energy efficiency upgrades to the area's homes and non-profit buildings can save area residents $60 million in lower energy bills and create more than 300 local jobs, according to a study released last month by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. The study looked at the economic impact of energy efficiency investments to the metropolitan area, which includes the Kentucky counties of Boone, Campbell, and Kenton.

Nov 30, 2011

What's a Meter Geek?

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Nov 30, 2011 01:17 PM
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By Sam Avery, of Avery and Sun, a KySEA group member

When was the last time you looked at your electric meter?  If you’re like most people, you don’t even know where it is, but if you’re a Meter Geek, you’re likely to answer: “This morning.”

I became a Meter Geek the day I hooked up the PV system on my own house.  I just stood there watching the numbers bounce around.   Dan joked: “Where’s Sam…?  Oh, he’s over playing with his inverter.”  I still check it every day or so.

But I’m not the only one.  I just got an email from Dennis and Wendy:  “Yesterday morning the electric meter read one kilowatt hour less than the day you all hooked up the panels. I doubt that we will ever have to pay more than the basic rate again. Thanks. It is a great feeling.”

And then there’s Don.   (We installed his system a couple of years ago.)  He had one of the old rotating wheel meters.  He called me up one day to tell me that, with the sun shining and just the right number of lights on and the coffee maker brewing, he could run outside and watch the wheel come to a perfect balance.  It tried to edge one way or the other until the coffee was ready, and then it resumed its backward march.  He used to invite friends over just to stand outside and watch it with him.

When you install solar, you get rewired.  You pay attention to things you did not notice before.  You watch what the clouds are doing, how the shadows play, and wonder how many kilowatt-hours you’re likely to produce today.  You think about the sun bringing life into your home.  More importantly, you think about where the new energy is going.  It’s yours – for free – but there’s only so much and you don’t want to waste it.  You want to have enough for how you live but you want to live by what is there.

The most important thing about being a Meter Geek is that you begin to see energy as energy – not just as a bill you have to pay.  You stop converting it into dollars.  It falls on your roof, you gather it up, and turn it into lighting, music, vacuum cleaning, computing, televiewing, or coffee brewing.  You’re not buying anything – and not mining or burning anything, either.  And you’re paying attention to how energy flows through your life.  If you don’t have a way to produce energy and you’re trying to conserve, it’s all yin and no yang – it’s all going one way and you’re trying to slow it down but you can’t make it stop.  But when energy flows both ways you see the yin and the yang.  You feel the balance. 

The reason I’m raising this topic now is that I am about to have the consummate Meter Geek experience.  The day I installed my system – the day I became a Meter Geek – my electric meter read 3432 kilowatt-hours.  That was November 2007.  The PV system has been cranking out kwh ever since, more than I have been using, and today, Aug 25 , the meter reads 00008.   By the time you read these words it will have gone to 00000, and I have no idea what happens after that!  It’s another Y2K.  I’m a little afraid it will read 99 million or something, and some computer will spit me out a bill for $ 9 million or so.  I have no idea.  I’ll be finding out soon, but you won’t find out until….

Nov 14, 2011

KySEA Groups Discuss Upcoming Legislative Session

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Nov 14, 2011 04:27 PM

About half of KySEA member groups attended a meeting in Lexington on Monday, November 7th, to discuss the upcoming 2012 Kentucky legislative session.

Thirty three representatives from 23 KySEA member groups participated in lively discussion about how to move the Clean Energy Opportunity Act forward this session and about how to support other opportunities that might arise to advance clean energy in the state.

The group heard preliminary findings about a Health Impact Assessment from the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, which shows the health advantages for Kentucky of moving to clean energy.

Curtis Stauffer, of Metropolitan Housing Coalition, also presented about a recent report from the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, entitled the 2011 State of Metropolitan Housing Report. It looked at a variety of factors surrounding affordable housing in the Metro Louisville area, focusing particularly on approaches to providing fair and affordable housing that uses less energy.  

Housing and CO2

He showed the graphic above to highligh that denser housing types in transit oriented developments are significantly more energy efficient than less dense housing types in suburban style development.  And, green, energy efficient  building practices- significantly reduce home energy use in all types of developments.

Those present at the KySEA meeting agreed that Kentucky needs better solutions both in building new homes and retrofitting existing homes in order to lower people's energy bills. With electricity rates rising across the state, this will be a topic of much consideration during the next session. And the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, supported by KySEA offers some of those solutions.

 

Nov 01, 2011

Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance Meeting

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Nov 01, 2011 11:17 AM

Monday, November 7th, 2011
10 am to 4 pm
Northside Library Branch
1733 Russell Cave Road
Lexington, KY


The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance will host its fall meeting on November 7th. The agenda will include:

-Preview of the 2012 legislative session: Perspectives from key KySEA members including a green energy business and an affordable housing provider, as well as opportunities to plug into KySEA's legislative work

-Overview of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act

-Two exciting presentations on reports related to clean energy by Metropoltan Housing Coalition and Kentucky Environmental Foundation.

Bring a brown bag lunch. We hope you will join us.

Please RSVP by clicking here.

Oct 25, 2011

Join Us: Solar Energy To Be Discussed in Frankfort Tomorrow!

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Oct 25, 2011 04:36 PM

The interim joint committee on local government will host a "discussion on solar energy" tomorrow, October 26th, in Frankfort at 10 am in the Capitol Annex room 171.

 

Join us to support Matt Partymiller and Denis Oudard of Solar Energy Solutions and the Kentucky Solar Energy Society, both member groups of KySEA.

 

The committee is co-chaired by Senator Damon Thayer and Representative Steve Riggs. Both are interested to learn about the opportunity Kentucky has to advance solar energy and how local governments can take action.

 

For more information, email jeff@kysea.org or denis@kysea.org.

 

 

Oct 20, 2011

Capitalism will drive demand for solar energy

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Oct 20, 2011 08:16 PM

By Denis Oudard, representative to KySEA for the Kentucky Solar Energy Society
Posted: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/10/16/1923111/capitalism-will-drive-demand-for.html#ixzz1bAIpmegN

Solar electricity will be cheaper than any other source of electricity by 2020.

There, you heard it from me first. This claim is now more believable than ever.

Signs are everywhere that this will be reality within our lifetime. The reason is very simple, and it has nothing to do with the Environmental Protection Agency or environmentalists. It has to do with good old capitalism.

First, some basic, but important, data.

You can go crazy trying to determine the cost of electricity from coal (try the Internet), but since I have seen some utility bills from large companies at about 3.3 cents per kilowatt hour, it is quite safe to assume that — under most circumstances — it is less than 3 cents, including the transmission to the point of consumption.

More importantly, it is safe to assume that it is not going down. Kentucky residential customers pay about 8 cents per kWh and they know it has not been going down.

Today the solar industry can install utility-size systems that over their 40-year lifetime will produce electricity at a cost of 10 cents per kWh, down from about 18 per kWh about a year ago.
The reasons for this sudden decline are several, but the two main factors are:

■ European countries have lowered their feed-in-tariffs, the amount of money European utilities promise to pay for solar electricity, making them less attractive to investors

■ China is investing huge amounts of money in solar production plants. This has created an oversupply situation in the photovoltaic industry, sending the price of PV modules tumbling.

The cost of solar was going down before these two recent events and it will continue going down, most likely in fits and starts. Eventually, it will halve again, and again and again. I predict that by 2020, the cost of a solar kWh will be 2.2 cents, delivered.

Many in the industry make similar predictions. Forward thinking companies and governments all over the world are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to install solar systems. Once the cost of solar electricity reaches "grid-parity," the point where solar electricity is cheaper than the alternatives, they will spend hundreds of billions of dollars.

Solar has all kind of neat advantages. It produces electricity without water, without ashes and without various unwanted gases and poisons. But as we have seen, for many people those advantages are not enough. The decisive advantage of solar is that its cost is going down.

The implications are far reaching. Countries and states that do not act now to build a solar energy infrastructure, including knowledgeable engineers, qualified installers, modern transmission lines and even electricity storage, will find themselves with the highest electrical bills in less than 10 years.

Some say that coal is already the expensive solution today because of its externalities: its pollutions of all kind and their consequences. What seems to be the source of cheap electricity today will no longer be the source of cheap electricity tomorrow, no matter how you do the math and no matter how you account for externalities.

Some people say we cannot afford to rely on more expensive renewable energy. Their message — that renewable energy is pushing the price of electricity up — is the exact opposite of what is going to happen. Sticking with the status quo is what is going to cause the cost of electricity to increase the most. Investing now in renewable energy will create the cheapest electricity in the near term.

Groups involved with the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA) and the Kentucky Solar Energy Society (KySES) are finally making some progress in Frankfort waking up our legislators to this reality. They are advocating a bill that would progressively increase the portion of clean energy that utilities purchase and implement policies — which states including Ohio, North Carolina and New Jersey have already adopted — to grow Kentucky's clean-energy market, clean-energy expertise and clean-energy jobs.

 

Oct 11, 2011

Renewed Energy

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Oct 11, 2011 10:22 AM

Re-posted from the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

Activists point to higher bills, job creation in urging legislators to support clean energy
By Anne Marshall

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Public Service Commission’s public hearing unfolded much like a game of dominoes. Held at Louisville’s Johnson Traditional Middle School, members of the scant crowd leaned into the microphone, one after another, their pleas all generally falling into line: Don’t raise our bills, protect low-income families who can’t afford ever-blooming energy costs, and get serious about alternative energy.

Clean energy advocates hope the combination of rising rates, along with the potential for job creation, will steer legislators towards passing the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, a bill that’s gone nowhere in the past two legislative sessions. It mandates that a portion of Kentucky’s energy come from renewable sources, rather than solely from coal. An admittedly uphill battle in a mountaintop removal state.

“I think it will look nearly impossible until the day before it passes,” says Wallace McMullen, conservation chair with Louisville’s chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Sept. 6 hearing was part of a series as the Public Service Commission decides whether LG&E and Kentucky Utilities should be allowed to tack on an environmental surcharge to bills. That could raise residential electric bills in Louisville by up to 19 percent over the next four years. (The Sierra Club and Metropolitan Housing Coalition will go before the Public Service Commission in November as interveners in the surcharge case. The Sierra Club questions the analysis behind the fee. The Housing Coalition is concerned with how the higher bills may inevitably hit the poor the hardest.)

The charge would eventually drop off once the utilities have covered the estimated $2.5 billion needed to improve existing coal-fired power plants not meeting Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. One such upgrade would include the addition of “scrubbers” that will catch emissions before they escape into the air. Joan Lindop, with the Greater Louisville Sierra Club, likens this to billions on Band-Aids.

“If they scrub more emissions out, that’s more that’s going into a coal ash pile,” she says. “We’re really not wanting to encourage them to spend that money on old plants when it could be used for renewables.”

And so for the third year, advocates are gearing up to push legislation they say would spark production and demand of solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power.

In 2010, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB 239) was assigned to the state House of Representatives’ Natural Resources and Environment Committee, headed by global-warming denier Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence. It did not get a hearing. In 2011, the bill was strategically rerouted outside of Gooch’s committee and into the Tourism Development and Energy Committee led by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville. That resulted in measured progress: A discussion hearing. No vote.

This year’s proposed legislation will look much like the one from last year, with two critical pieces. The first includes a renewable and efficiency portfolio standard, a policy already adopted by 29 other states. It would require utilities to generate 12.5 percent of retail sales from renewable energy by 2021, with at least 1 percent from solar.

This is a rather conservative standard when compared to several other states demanding that well over 20 percent of energy eventually be derived from renewable sources.

The other proposed policy calls for a “feed-in tariff,” which works as a contract, establishing a fixed premium price for energy produced in Kentucky, be it from large-scale operations or individual homeowners.

Mike Hynes, president of the Housing Partnership Inc., a developer of affordable housing in Louisville, wrote a letter to the Public Service Commission in support of this idea. Hynes recently installed solar panels on one of the Housing Partnership’s properties, but was careful to only invest in panels that would generate 75 percent of their energy needs.

If Hynes outfitted the building with enough panels to exceed 100 percent of their desired energy, LG&E would give him a credit to go toward future bills, rather than pay him for that energy.
“Basically, that builds up in perpetuity. In my mind, that creates an incentive not to produce enough electricity as one could for their household,” he says. “With a rebate program, that’s an incentive to create systems that are larger than what you can use."

Several regional utility companies including Duke Energy, Georgia Power and Florida Power and Light have tariff programs that pay per kilowatt-hour, then turn around and put that energy back into the grid.

Tom FitzGerald, with the Kentucky Resources Council, says the timing is right for renewables.
“The unit cost of solar and wind is coming down,” says FitzGerald, adding that while coal may appear to be the cheapest source of fuel, that’s not including environmental costs and restrictions.

“Over the course of time, you start having to fold in extra costs because externalities have to be accounted for.”

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, will sponsor the renewable energy bill again this year. She says supporters are tailoring their arguments for the legislation in light of another sore subject — jobs.

“When you’re looking at business and manufacturing folks coming to Kentucky, they want constancy in the market,” she says. “Coal is cheap now, but it’s going up.”

The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance reports that neighboring states with clean energy standards are experiencing a boom in manufacturing and construction employment. For example, after Ohio passed legislation in 2008, about 1,500 solar-related jobs were created.

While no one expects the Clean Energy Opportunity Act to garner much attention until election hoopla ceases, advocates believe this year the support just might be there. They point to this week’s Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment in Lexington, where various panels discussed the issue.

“What we have to consider is coal is always going to be No. 1 for the foreseeable 15 to 20 years,” Marzian says. “But if we don’t start looking at different tools … we’re going to be left holding the bag.”

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