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Clean Energy Lobby Day Participants Tout Benefits of House Bill 239 to Legislators

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Feb 15, 2011 02:23 PM

Forty people, including many KySEA members, participated in a lobby day and press conference in Frankfort on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Participants touted the benefits of clean energy contained in the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, House BIll 239, to more than twenty legislators with whom they met.

Two legislators - Tom Riner and Tom Burch- agreed to co-sponsor the bill after meetings. The bill, sponsored by Mary Lou Marzian, is already co-sponsored by Representatives Joni Jenkins and Jim Wayne. It has been assigned to the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee where it should have a hearing later this month.

Mary Lou Press ConferenceRepresentative Marzian hosted a press conference that day to present the bill and its benefits for Kentuckians. She said "This bill starts us looking towards the future and many legislators are ready for that."

Marzian discussed the health benefits of clean energy and compared passing clean energy policy to the long-term process of raising tobacco taxes in Kentucky. She mentioned that Kentucky was once known as a "tobacco state" just as many call us a "coal state" now, but state that label will disappear. "Change might take a little while but there will be a tipping point and it will come," Marzian said.

Speakers at the press conference presented how the bill will save Kentucky families money and create thousands of clean energy jobs.

Sherrie Davison, of Frontier Housing in Morehead, Ky, told the story of Betty Ruth Hoage, a 77-year old widow with asthma living on a fixed income of about 10,000 a year. With the help of grant money, Frontier Housing made efficiency improvements on Betty's home that have lowered her utility bills and improved her quality of life, making the home warmer, the air cleaner and lessening highway noise. And, the utility savings more than offset the $34 monthly loan that Betty took on to rehab the home.

"Affordable housing providers support this bill because it devotes more resources allowing low-income homeowners to overcome upfront barriers to efficiency efforts and increases housing stability for families with highest energy burdens. These kinds of improvements can increase the value of their home; decrease energy costs to the homeowner and the community," Davison said.

Matt Partymiller, of Solar Energy Solutions, focused on the job creation potential of House Bill 239 in his comments. "Kentucky should take this opportunity to build on a growing clean energy market and capitalize on newly implemented job training programs across the state by implementing clean energy incentives that lead to career-oriented jobs and business growth. We stand to gain a lot if we do - including, thousands of jobs, including many in manufacturing and millions of investment dollars. Now is the time for Kentucky to get a foothold in this growing economy and if we don't, we are all going to pay for it." Partymiller noted that Kentucky lost $3.5 million in contracts to out of state companies for solar installations done in Kentucky.

Jason Bailey, of the Mountain Association of Community Economic Development explained the bill mechanisms, pointing out that many states nearby to Kentucky have policy mechanisms similar to those contained in House Bill 239 already in place. For this reason, he stated, we know these things can work in Kentucky.

"The Clean Energy Opportunity Act is about recognizing that external change can mean homegrown opportunity for Kentucky, but only if we act early, plan wisely, and design solutions that citizens and business across the Commonwealth can benefit from," Bailey said.


Follow this blog to learn more about when a hearing on House BIll 239, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, will take place. Take action today by calling 1-800-372-7181 and send a message to Representative Leslie Combs to thank her for hearing the bill and continuing this important conversation in Kentucky.

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