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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”.


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.

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 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

 

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.”

Apr 28, 2011

Feed In Tarrifs with "TLC"

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 28, 2011 09:25 AM

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act, introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly this year and supported by KySEA, would establish Feed In Tariffs, along with a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standards.

A Feed In Tarriff (FIT) establishes a fixed premium prices for the sale of renewable electricity by using standard long-term contracts.  FITs can apply to / be available to anyone that connects an eligible generator to the electricity grid.  When it comes to renewable energy policies, FITs are the most widely implemented, around the world. 

 As of 2008, 45% of all global wind development and 75% of all world solar wind PV capacity developed under FITs policies. And, 48 nations have them in place.

“Feed In” refers to: feeding electricity into the electricity grid.

“Tariff” refers to: the price paid for electricity.

FITs:
•    Accelerate renewable energy development
•    Establish a long-term commitment to a renewable energy economy

Successful FITs require “T.L.C”:

Common characteristics of successful FITs are transparency, longevity, and certainty or TLC. 

Transparency refers to purchase agreements that use standard offer contracts with established fixed rates. 

Longevity requires long-term (often 10-40 years) power purchase contracts. 

Certainty refers to fixed process, long-term contracts, and access to the grid.  It has also been noted that, in addition to T.L.C, it is important to include rates based on costs - of generating power - plus a reasonable return on investments. 

Who is Eligible?:
Anyone with an eligible renewable energy facility can participate.  Some examples of individuals, as well as groups, that can become eligible to sell renewable energy through these policies include: farmers, homeowners, small and large businesses, non-profits, industry, public agencies, electric utilities, etc. 


How are FIT Prices Set?:
First, the FIT payment level is based on technology.  These prices are subject to change, and will certainly adjust over time.  The costs of FIT payments are passed onto ratepayers through each utility companies’ general rates. 

Advantages:
FIT policies accelerate the development of renewable energy, and lowers the costs and risks for investors (through T.L.C).  They improve, and better maintain, local economy and production by creating an in-state distributed generation, as well as local economic development in all regions of the state.  In turn, this ensures that renewable energy will be developed in-state.  Similarly, these policies also support in-state manufacturing of renewable energy equipment.

Complimentary Policies:
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) set renewable energy production targets that utilities in a state must meet.  Implementing FIT policies alongside a RPS provides a powerful mechanism to achieve these goals.  As mentioned earlier, FIT ensures local economic development and distributed generation.  Complimentary to this, RPS policies ensure that utility companies are proactive in terms of investing in renewables.  If these policies were to be implemented here, locally in Kentucky, economic benefits would certainly be distributed across all regions of the state.  

Global Successes:
Successful FITs can be found in Germany, Italy, and Ontario.  Germany’s implementation of this policy, specifically from the years 2000-2009, created approximately 300,000 jobs.  They were also able to add 20,000MW of wind power, as well as 8,700MW of solar PV, during this period as a result of FITs implementation.

Italy began implemented FITs in 2007.  While Italy’s population is only 1/5 of the size of the U.S. population, they have been able to exceed our solar PV capacity by 1.5 times.   Another result of Italy’s implementation of a FIT includes the installation of 2.4 times more solar PV since 2008.

Finally, Ontario implemented their FIT policy in 2009 and have seen success.  Data collected from November 2010 show that there is over 2,600MW of renewable energy under contract there, at this time.  Their installed PV capacity increased from 2MW to 48MW in one year, also.  It is projected that, by the year 2012, Ontario will have the largest solar PV market in North America.

This information was adapted from a presentation that Andy McDonald, of member groups' Kentucky Solar Partnership and  Appalachia Science in the Public Interest, did during KySEA's Clean Energy Summit in January.

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Millard Area Technology Center in Pikeville, Kentucky has begun training energy auditors who will work to increase area homes’ energy efficiency. Millard’s 40-hour certification track equips students with the ability to perform blower-door tests, carbon monoxide checks and furnace inspections on homes, amongst other things.

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