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Jan 08, 2013

Making our voices heard

by Lisa Abbott — last modified Jan 08, 2013 03:04 PM

As the KY General Assembly convenes this month, your voice is needed to help make the case for Clean Energy policies in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance is encouraging our members to set up in-district meetings with your State Representative and/or Senator on January 29th. (If you can't get an appointment that day, try for a meeting any time during the week of January 28-February 1st).

These conversations are valuable opportunities to build relationships with lawmakers and discuss the benefits of policies to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy in our state.

To help you prepare for an effective conversation with your legislator(s), we are offering a webinar at 8 pm EST on Thursday, January 17th. We'll review  key messaging points, examples and data about the case for clean energy policies in Kentucky. And we'll discuss steps you can take to set up a meeting with your local legislator before he or she returns to Frankfort in February.

Interested? Follow this link to sign up for the Jan 17th webinar and express your interest in organizing or participating in an in-district meeting with a local legislator in late January. We'll follow-up with more information to help you get started. 

We have an opportunity right now to curb energy costs and create thousands of new jobs by growing Kentucky's clean energy resources and taking measures to save money by saving energy. Please sign up today to make your voice heard!

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 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”.

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.

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.)

Mar 28, 2012

Clean Energy Opportunity Act - Gets Hearing

by Lauren McGrath — last modified Mar 28, 2012 10:52 AM

by Lisa Abbott

Legislators heard testimony today about the benefits of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB 167) during a hearing before the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee. KFTC members and our allies in the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance have made HB 167 a high priority, and many were on hand in the packed committee room to show support. Although no vote was taken, the hearing was an important opportunity to inform legislators and build support for the future.

Bill sponsor Rep. Mary Lou Marzian introduced the bill, noting, "Thank you for allowing us to bring this important issue for discussion. This is a piece of legislation about job creation in Kentucky. Twenty-nine other states have passed this kind of policy that is called a renewable and efficiency portfolio standard. These policies have been shown to stabilize rates and create jobs. And those would be jobs that could stay in Kentucky."

Rick Hornby of Synapse Energy Economics presented a summary of a report his firm recently did about the potential economic impact of HB 167 on jobs and electricity rates in Kentucky over the next 10 years. "Kentucky is facing an electricity challenge. A number of utilities are looking at retrofitting some coal-fired plants. Some are planning to retire coal plants. Some of those retirements will be replaced with new generation, largely natural gas. Our study projects that Kentucky is looking at increases in average electricity supply costs on the order of 50%. Adding renewable energy and energy efficiency to your mix will help Kentucky turn this challenge into an opportunity. As I say, it will help. There is no silver bullet."

Hornby touched on several highlights of the Synapse report, including:

  • The energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements contained in HB 167 could generate 28,000 net new jobs over the next 10 years.
  • Under any scenario – whether this bill passes or it doesn't – utility rates in Kentucky are going to go up significantly.
  • Average electric bills in Kentucky are projected to be 8-10% lower at the end of 10 years as a result of HB 167 than they would be under a business-as-usual scenario.

Chris Woolery, who works with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), also testified in support of the measure. "I'm one of those contractors that could definitely have benefited from legislation like this. As a former Energy Star home-builder, I learned about the importance of energy efficiency. Then when the market crashed I went into energy retrofit work."
Woolery described his job doing home energy audits and retrofits in eastern Kentucky. "I'm now working with How$mart Kentucky. We work with four rural electric co-operatives in eastern Kentucky to do on-bill financing for energy improvements. With these co-ops we do whole house audits and energy upgrades, and we create a savings that the customer uses to pay for the improvements."
Woolery described some of the results of the How$mart program in the past year:

  • reached customers in 23 counties.
  • retrofitted 57 houses.
  • saving people 25-37% on their bills.
  • savings of $550 per year on average per family.
  • Over 40% of the families the program has worked with are low to moderate income.
IMG_0393

David Brown Kinloch, a renewable energy developer in Kentucky, also spoke before the committee. He emphasized the importance of a portion of the bill – called a feed-in tariff – that is designed to spur  investment in renewable energy projects. "A feed-in tariff will allow companies like mine to finance projects and sell power into the grid here in Kentucky. There is tremendous opportunity in Kentucky, and this bill just allows that opportunity to be harvested."

The testimony generated a number of comments and questions from members of the Tourism Development and Energy Committee. Chairwoman Leslie Combs from Pike County voiced concern about the troubling projections that utility rates are projected to rise steeply under any scenario.

"Consumers are consistently concerned about the fact that their rates are going up, today," she stated. "They don't want their rates to go up any more, and if anything they would like them to come down. But according to this chart, under any scenario, the rates go up. Period. I realize that's kind of the way things are, but at the same time it's hard to explain to the consumers who are saying, 'stop raising our rates.'
Hornby acknowledged that difficult reality. "I very much understand. It would be nice to be able to come in and say that. But the numbers are the numbers. Kentucky has a big challenge. Over the next several years, no matter what, your rates are going to go up by some amount. 

What efficiency and renewables can do is give your ratepayers some ability to respond to those increases. If you use less, your bill won't go up as much even as rates rise, and we are going to help you use less."
Rep. Keith Hall from Pike County concluded the testimony on HB 167 with a note of praise. "I want to commend Rep. Marzian for bringing this measure before the committee. And to the gentleman who spoke about energy efficiency, that's a very good program. This has been a very worthwhile conversation, and I want to commend the Madam Chairperson for having it."

Mar 05, 2012

Radio show in eKY describes benefits of clean energy

by Lisa Abbott — last modified Mar 05, 2012 10:03 AM

A public affairs program on WMMT-FM, a community radio station based in Whitesburg, focused last week on the benefits of clean energy policies that are currently under consideration in the Kentucky General Assembly.

You can listen to the program here.

The talk show features Nathan Hall, a resident and biodiesel entrepreneur in Floyd County, and Matt Partymiller, operator of a solar energy firm based in central Kentucky. The two described ways that stronger state energy policies can create jobs across the state and help families, farms and businesses save money by saving energy.

Thanks to WMMT-FM, Nathan and Matt, and others who called into the program with questions and information.

 

Mar 01, 2012

KySEA Lobby Day - A Success!

by Lauren McGrath — last modified Mar 01, 2012 02:50 PM

More than 60 citizen lobbyists came to Frankfort on Tuesday, February 28, to talk to legislators about the promise of clean energy.

The Clean Energy Lobby Day was hosted by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA), a coalition of 52 organizations working to pass clean energy policy that would stem rising energy rates and create thousands of new jobs.  KySEA includes small businesses, faith communities, housing groups, MACED, environmental groups, and even individuals.

Lobby Day

It was an incredible day.  Participants from around the state met with more than 50 different legislators to discuss House Bill 167, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act.  Sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, the bill would establish benchmarks for increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Kentucky over the next ten years.  It would also establish payment rates for renewable energy to encourage renewable energy industries to locate in Kentucky and create new jobs.

Many surrounding states have already passed such measures, and new jobs in clean energy are going to Ohio and North Carolina instead of Kentucky.

EKU students John Bowers and Emily Justus, and Nick Johnson, a U of Louisville student lobbied for the first time.  Nick told his senator, Robert Leeper of Paducah, about the Synapse Economics study which projects 28,000 additional job-years in Kentucky by 2022 if the bill is passed.  When he came out of the meeting, Nick said “I think I know how to do public speaking.  And now I’m going to learn how to be better at lobbying legislators.”

Emily Justus, a native of Pike County, said she came to Frankfort to “show our support and learn about the whole process.”  John Bowers of Berea said, “I’m very much for clean energy. I think that’s the wave of the future and the direction we need to go.”

Each legislator who met with KySEA representatives was given a packet of information about HB 167 and its projected benefits.  Most KySEA participants reported a fairly favorable response from their legislators.

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act is assigned to the House Tourism, Development and Energy Committee.  One strategy of the lobby day was to press for the bill to get a hearing, and we have learned that our efforts were successful on that. The bill will get a hearing in committee in the next few weeks!  

So, we ask all the wonderful KySEA activists to stay tuned, and come back to the Capitol complex to attend the hearing.

Feb 22, 2012

Feb 28th: Join us in Building Kentucky's Clean Energy Momentum

by Lauren McGrath — last modified Feb 22, 2012 12:55 PM


Kentuckians are ready to reap the benefits of clean energy. Energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions are already working in Kentucky to reduce energy costs, create jobs and improve our health and well-being. But new policies are needed before we can realize the full benefits of this transition.. We can’t afford for Kentucky’s workers, families and businesses to be left behind as other states ramp up their investments in one of the fastest growing sectors of our national economy.

Your voice is needed to urge Kentucky’s General Assembly to pass HB 167, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act. 

Solar Capitol InstallHB 167, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, asks utilities in Kentucky to gradually increase the share of their electricity mix that comes from renewables and energy efficiency. A recent study projects that over the next ten years this could create 28,000 net new jobs and result in lower average bills, compared to the “do nothing” scenario. 

Here are two ways you can help support this important legislation:

1) Call the toll-free message line (1-800-372-7181) and leave a message for your state Senator and state Representative. A suggested message is: It’s time to invest in clean energy solutions that can put Kentuckians to work and curb energy costs for families, farms and businesses. Please support HB 167.”

2) Come to Frankfort on Tuesday, February 28 to participate in a lobby day sponsored by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance. You don’t have to be an expert. We’ll provide materials and a quick orientation in Room 113 of the Capitol Annex starting at 9 a.m. Then you’ll set out in small groups to talk with legislators about the benefits of HB 167 and clean energy solutions. Please let us know if you plan to attend by registering here - https://docs.google.com/a/kftc.org/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHVFd2xkSTJfY2h2cUZSb1JRZHVPemc6MQ#gid=0 

 

More Information:

More information about HB 167 and the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance can be found at www.kysea.org

A factsheet about HB 167 can be found here: http://www.kysea.org/legislative-policy-work

A recent article by Matt Partymiller, operating manager of Solar Energy Solutions, can be found here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/02/14/2067838/ky-voices-encourage-power-companies.html#storylink=misearch

A copy and executive summary of the recent study about the jobs potential of HB 167 can be found here: http://www.maced.org/REPS-release.htm

 

Feb 01, 2012

Can weather stripping and caulk help you get healthy?

by Lauren McGrath — last modified Feb 01, 2012 04:09 PM

The answer is yes, according to research compiled and released this week by the health experts and the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.  The “Health Impact Assessment on Coal and Clean Energy Options in Kentucky” is a review of health and scientific data and perspectives from Kentuckians on the specific health impacts – positive and negative – associated with our energy policy options.  Health impact assessments (HIAs) are designed to be tools for government decision makers and other stakeholders when considering public policies that affect our health, but occur outside of the health sector. 

PSHH solar home

 

It turns out that energy efficiency and renewable energies from sources like solar, wind and hydro could have both indirect and direct benefits to public health.  Much of the benefits of efficiency and renewables come in the avoidance of pollution created and released from fossil fuels and their chemical byproducts; pollution that is linked to heart and respiratory diseases, birth defects, developmental disabilities and even tooth decay.   By contrast, wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams do not release any pollution.  But some direct benefits include improved general health and increased productivity from home weatherization and less eyestrain, headaches and other illnesses from energy efficient lighting.  

With health care costs are high and getting higher, and Kentucky is among the least healthy states, we should be looking for every opportunity to improve our health.  Recent polling data shows that Kentuckians want our legislators to prioritize public health improvements.  Energy efficiency and renewable energy reduce pollution that makes us sick, and that’s a powerful reason to support clean energy policies for our state.  

Let’s encourage Kentucky legislators to consider clean energy policies as if our health really matters…because it does!

You can find the HIA at:  http://kyenvironmentalfoundation.org.

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 www.maced.org/files/Potential_Impacts_of_REPS_in_KY.pdf

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.

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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