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HB 408

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 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.”

Jul 26, 2011

Owensboro-area Business Leader Invests in Solar

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jul 26, 2011 11:20 AM

Interview with Malcolm Bryant, President of the Malcolm Bryant Corporation by Lauren McGrath, Sierra Club organizer - Sierra Club is a KySEA member.

The Malcolm Bryant Corporation (TMBC), a thriving real estate development and property management company, is about to take a new angle on innovation.

mbc logoBased in Owensboro, KY, the Malcolm Bryant Corp has prided itself with an exceptional customer-focused, entrepreneurial vision that has led to its continued successes including – conducting business in more then fifteen different communities and owning more than one thousand current, and past, property occupants. The company, among other things, specializes in office design, technology, industrial location and hospitality service.  They’re even fully staffed up with everything their clients might need  - a full time construction and remodeling crews, free in-house design experts, full time mechanical and repair personnel as well as office staff. 

From the youngest to the oldest all of us are interested in the future. Solar energy offers us a view to the future of our planet and how we take care of ourselves at home and work. - Macolm Bryant

And now they’re about to add a new twist to their image – solar panels on their headquarters building in downtown Owensboro.

The install, slated for later this month, will also be the first commercial install of photovoltaic (PV) or “solar” panels in Owensboro, KY.  Following is a brief interview with TMBC’s President, Malcolm Bryant.

Q:  What first interested you, or your company, in solar energy?

Solar panelsA: Our company is focused on learning. We are constantly trying to expose our customers to the latest ways to improve their business and make their guests interested and comfortable in their space. Solar energy is certainly interesting. From the youngest to the oldest all of us are interested in the future. Solar energy offers us a view to the future of our planet and how we take care of ourselves at home and work. We love the creativity it brings to our properties. And we can’t ignore that all traditional energy sources are increasing in costs.
 

Q:  Solar has a pretty hefty upfront cost, what factors helped weigh this initial investment out for you?

A: The building that we are installing solar panels has an interesting past, being Owensboro High School in the early 20’s. We have been trying creative additions to it for many years. We painted a tromp’ loi mural on the facade 15 years ago and KET did a documentary on it, so it has an interesting history. We added a cloth awning 25 years ago and we constantly replace it due to the ultraviolet rays. That’s expensive.  It is now interesting that the sun’s rays should now help the building.  And as we mentioned all energy costs are increasing, so it is a good test model for us in seeing if it can help more of our  properties as well.

But, most importantly we want to show our customers our interest in helping their business. If  this can bring the right curiosity to the property they occupy, it brings good intentions to their business and being green and occupying sustainable buildings, should be good business

Q:  What do you think needs to happen to see these newer clean energy industries thrive in Kentucky?

In the broad picture, I believe our leaders need to make a generation changing statement about energy, much the same way we said when we would put a man on the moon.

A: The State and Federal and Local governments need to partner with entrepreneurs such as ourselves that want to make a difference. In the broad picture, I believe our leaders need to make a generation changing statement about energy, much the same way we said when we would put a man on the moon. Simply educating ourselves on the installation and interface with the grid is important on the local front.

Q:  What do you hope to gain from this experience? What opportunities exist?

A: Primarily we hope to create curiosity in the community and introduce our properties consistently as cutting edge places to do business. We have many visitors to our community form other cities and I believe it is a good signal to them that our community is exploring worldly ideas. We want to start the discussions of “what if…”

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A:  We are pursuing our new convention hotel under design, being LEED certified, the first LEED project in the region. It may have alternative energy opportunities, also.  We certainly will be the pioneer in this region and that’s a good initiative for us and our customers.

To learn more about solar energy and state energy policies that can support its growth, contact KySEA.


Jan 17, 2011

All Our Eggs in One Basket

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jan 17, 2011 09:15 AM

By Tim Darst

Of KySEA member Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light

In Kentucky we get more than 90% of our electricity from coal.  Many Eastern and Western Kentucky communities’ are highly dependant upon coal jobs.   While electricity from coal is cheap and many coal jobs pay well, does it make sense to have such a high percentage of our future tied to coal?

There are adverse effects of this over reliance also.  Louisville and Lexington rank in 1st and 5th in the country in per capita carbon footprint due to the burn of coal for electricity (Brown, 2008, Brooking Institute). 

We are some of the most inefficient users of electricity in the country.  We are one of the states most highly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change legislation.  A recent article in the journal Energy predicts that we will hit peak coal production soon which means that coal prices will increase sharply as demand outstrips supply.

Who has more than 90% of their retirement fund invested in one company?  We need to diversify our portfolio to make sure that we don’t suffer theses bad effects in the future.  There are alternatives.  Solar panels and wind turbines can be made locally thus bringing manufacturing jobs and will provide jobs for the installers as well.  Kentucky gets the same amount of sunlight as Germany and Germany is a world leader in solar.  There are many parts of the state that have strong wind patterns.

The change needs to start with the General Assembly in Frankfort and they will have the opportunity to make a difference with the bill being proposed by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance.  The bill has a provision that requires Kentucky utilities to diversify their portfolio of where they get their electricity.   It proposes a modest timetable of 2% renewable energy by 2013, 5% by 2016, 8.5% by 2019, and 11.5% by 2019.  We should all pressure our lawmakers in Frankfort to support this bill.

Stay tuned for blogs on other provisions of the bill.

Mar 09, 2010

Is House Bill 3 The Best It Can Be?

by Martin Richards — last modified Mar 09, 2010 08:55 PM
Filed Under:

In the 2010 General Assembly House Bills 3 and 408 each represent a comprehensive approach to addressing Kentucky’s long-term energy needs, but with distinctly different methods and outcomes.

(DOWNLOAD A PDF COMPARISON CHART OF THE TWO BILLS BY CLICKING HERE)

  • HB 3 bill does not make energy efficiency Kentucky’s top energy priority. Unlike HB 408 and Governor Beshear’s Energy Plan, HB3 masks the importance of efficiency by lumping it in a category that could also include nuclear power and other expensive generation strategies.
  • HB 3 has no requirement for any program or effort to help low-income Kentuckians with energy efficiency. The efficiency standards in HB 408 require energy efficiency specifically for those who are most vulnerable in a time of rising rates.
  • Under HB 3, the requirements for efficiency and renewables are about half the size of the goals in HB 408. The goals in HB 3 will not help Kentucky to keep pace with neighboring states in meeting efficiency and renewable targets that achieve job growth, protect vulnerable families, and stabilize long-term energy costs.
  • HB 3 does not contain provisions that are needed to spur development of in-state distributed renewable energy generation, such as a specific goal for solar generation and production-based incentives. HB 408 has these provisions.
  • HB 3 creates new tax incentives and expands others for various energy projects - HB 408 does not. These incentives will impact future state budgets.
  • HB 3 creates a new “low-carbon ” energy standard. This new designation would encourage the development of some of the most expensive generation strategies, including nuclear power and coal plants with carbon capture and storage. HB 408 focuses only on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

HB 3 focuses more on centralized power generation and increasing the efficiency of the generation and distribution infrastructure, with little support for the end user, especially low-income households.

 

HB 408 makes energy efficiency Kentucky’s top energy priority.  It assists the elderly and the poor.  It seeks to make efficiency and renewables available to all.  HB 408 is similar to legislation already enacted in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. And while both bills strive to create new jobs, HB 3 will likely concentrate those jobs.  HB 408 will make more jobs statewide.

 

Call or write your Legislator and ask that Kentucky pass energy legislation that makes energy efficiency, including low-income Kentuckians, a priority; and makes energy efficiency, renewable energy and the jobs they create available to all Kentuckians.  

Feb 09, 2010

IT'S OFFICIAL!

by Martin Richards — last modified Feb 09, 2010 09:04 PM
Filed Under:

House Bill 408 sponsored by Representative Harry Moberly was filed today!

House bill 408 is set to create new standards for Kentucky''s energy future. For a summary of what the bill would create go here on the KySEA website: http://www.kysea.org/legislative-policy-work/current-legislation-1

To read the actual bill go here: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/HB408.htm

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