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Avery and Sun Solar Installations Avery and Sun Solar Installations

"I became a KySea member to promote my solar installation business.  I became a solar installer to promote a healthy and realistic future for my home state of Kentucky."

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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 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 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.
 

May 01, 2012

Cincinnati Transitions to 100% Renewable Electricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here.

 

Apr 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.)

Jan 06, 2012

WEKU: New Business Model for Solar Energy

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 06, 2012 09:19 AM
Filed Under:

This entry is cross-posted from the Appalachian Transition blog, where it appeared 1/5/12.

WEKU featured a story on the Berea Municipal solar farm yesterday, quoting Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance members from Solar Energy Solutions, MACED, and Alternative Energies Kentucky.  We're thrilled to see the Berea solar farm up and running, and glad good coverage like this story (and yesterday's post about Rockcastle Regional hospital's solar installation) are helping to show that solar powers Kentucky.  Congrats to all involved in this innovative, interesting project.

 

New Business Model for Solar Energy

In December, billionaire Warren Buffet made his first move into solar power, buying one of the world's largest solar farms, which is in California. Market watchers wondered if this was a sign that solar was coming of age, that it was no longer a "feel good" nod to environmental correctness but a sensible investment. Still, California isn't Kentucky and Buffet is hardly an average ratepayer. So, we looked at how solar was faring in the Commonwealth.

For many, solar just makes sense. Every day enough sunlight falls on the earth to provide energy independence for years. Solar promoters say it's just a matter of capturing that energy and turning it into power that can run everything from light bulbs to play stations. Of course it's not as simple as it sounds. In Kentucky, it's even less simple. After all, people reason, this isn't the Southwest where the sun shines all year round.  And coal has long provided us with some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

Still, solar is beginning to make its mark here and advocates predict there's more to come. Matt Partymiller a gray beard of Kentucky's solar energy industry, having started his solar energy solutions six years ago…

"We started out with two of us part time and six years later there are now ten of us full time and we hope to continue to develop that. If we continue to develop the way we have we'll be at 20 next year and that'll be great."

Partymiller says solar’s more competitive, even in Kentucky.

"We are seeing the cost of solar come down, we are seeing the speed at which solar is installed improve and we are seeing electric rates going up. It's just a matter of time before we as an industry end up competitive."

During his six years in the business, Partymiller says the cost of solar panels has been cut in half. 

His firm has just completed installing a unique solar system in Berea. The city-owned electric utility built a solar farm and offered shares to its customers.

In the first phase, an array of 60 solar panels was installed outside the municipal utility building.  For $750, utility customers can buy all the power generated by a single panel for 25 years.

Berea's the first community in Kentucky and one of the first in the nation to offer this approach. It has several advantages for solar-inclined ratepayers. First, it doesn't matter if a house has good sun exposure. Second, it's cheaper because there’s an economy of scale.  The cost is about $3.30 a watt compared to $5 to $6 if installed on a home.  Third, if ratepayers move within the utility's service area, the credit on their bill moves with them. Fourth, if they move outside the area, they can simply sell the balance of their leases to other customers.

No one was prepared for the reaction when the leases went on sale. Josh Bills, who’s a consultant with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, helped Berea design the system.

"It was really quite shocking to everybody involved, the utility, the contractors, the public, the council that the system leased out so quickly. There are 60 modules, there's a limit of two modules…..and in four days all 60 leases were subscribed."

The first array, as a group of solar panels is called, cost about $64,000 installed and was financed in part with federal stimulus money. Encouraged by the strong sales, Berea used the money from those leases to begin construction on a second array that is also selling rapidly.

Cool as this all sounds, customers are still bidding on a long payback. Assuming electric prices increase at the rate of 10 percent a year, it will take Berea ratepayers 23 years to recover their $750. For companies and individuals who can take advantage of tax breaks or subsidies on their projects, the payback could shrink to 8 to 10 years. With no moving parts, solar installations have limited maintenance, so the cost of electricity remains virtually the same over the entire life, which can be well over 25 years.

John Cotten directs marketing for Alternative Energies Kentucky.  It’s a Danville firm that manufactures and installs solar panels.

"It isn't dirt cheap, we're not going to tell anybody it is. You are making a longterm investment. It's no different if you were building a room addition on your house, you're not going to get the money back until you sell your house. In this case, though, you are going to start getting a return as soon as we turn the power back on….and that investment is going to last 25 to 50 years."

Cotten says the long payback is not as big an issue as whether there's enough sunlight in this sometimes gray state to make solar worthwhile.

"There is plenty of sunlight in Kentucky. That's a really large fallacy. We could probably retire with our company for every time we've heard that from different people but it's really not true. …actually the largest solar nation in the world right now is Germany. Germany's productive sunlight average per day is about 2.2 to 2.8 hours a day, Kentucky's runs anywhere from about 4.5 to 5.5 hours a day."

The problem in Kentucky, many experts say, is that we’re energy hogs. Conservation, they say, is the first and cheapest approach to reducing energy costs.

Steve Whitman, who’s the project manager on the Berea project…

"The first thing I tell everybody is do the easy things first. Tighten up your windows, get your insulation where it should be in your attic and your walls, do the caulking, do the steps that you should take to improve your energy efficiency. Then, if you have funds left over, this is one of the best longterm investments you can give to yourself." 

For Whitman, it's all about taking control of your energy future.

"I've been an electrician for over 35 years and I've been involved with solar for a little over a year….i think the key for the future is energy conservation…American's like to be empowered. If you realize that you could install a solar system and tie it into your home and see the savings and see the other ways you can save, I just think it's a way to empower people to do what you should be doing anyway."

To learn more about the Berea solar farm, go to http://bereautilities.com

Jan 04, 2012

Solar Powered Health: Rockcastle Regional State's First Solar Powered Hospital

by Kristin Tracz — last modified Jan 04, 2012 10:48 AM

Rockcastle Regional Hospital adds solar power to further commitment in creating a healthy community.

This entry is cross posted from the Appalachian Transition blog.

Business Lexington has a story today on Rockcastle Regional Hospital's new solar array.  It is a great example of a community institution taking advantage of clean energy opportunities in Kentucky--we hope to see other hospitals and community institutions following in the footsteps of Rockcastle Regional soon!

From BizLex:

Rockcastle Regional State's First Solar Powered Hospital

Mt. Vernon, Ky - Rockcastle Regional Hospital has become the first hospital in Kentucky to use the sun as a major energy source.

The hospital went live with a solar array on November 30, 2011, incorporating solar power into its energy management plan and reducing its reliance on the public power grid.

Rockcastle Regional Hospital CEO Stephen A. Estes said the investment fits into the hospital's mission of creating a healthy community.

 Rock Hosp pic

Facilities and Materials Management Director Gary Asher and CEO Stephen A. Estes with the new solar panels.

"We've built our organization on forward-thinking innovation. Now we've applied that mindset to energy management, and it creates a win-win for us and the community in the long term," Estes said. "As corporate citizens, we feel an obligation to conserve energy, and doing so frees more resources for patient care and wellness initiatives."

Discussions took place with several companies and Green Earth Solar of Knoxville, Tennessee was awarded the contract. Green Earth Solar was launched in 2006 and has completed dozens of solar projects including dairies, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, parks and residential areas. Rockcastle Regional is the company's first hospital project. 

Two hundred and ten solar modules have been installed on the roof of the hospital's Outpatient Services Center.  The modules will produce around 290 watts each (60.9 kW total) and will account for enough energy annually to power eight to ten homes.  Kentucky Utilities will purchase the power generated. 

The solar panels essentially will power the third floor of the Outpatient Services Center, which is a space that will be utilized for community wellness events.  The panels will also provide an educational experience for local students. 

Opening its doors in 1956, Rockcastle Regional Hospital & Respiratory Care Center is a not-for-profit community healthcare system that operates emergency, 26-bed inpatient acute beds and outpatient acute care programs, a 93-bed long-term care program for patients dependent upon mechanical ventilation and a medical office complex. For more information about the hospital, visit http://www.rockcastleregional.org

Dec 21, 2011

Sustainable Energy Briefs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 30, 2011

What's a Meter Geek?

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Nov 30, 2011 01:17 PM
Filed Under:

By Sam Avery, of Avery and Sun, a KySEA group member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 01, 2011

Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance Meeting

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

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


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

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

-Overview of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act

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

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

Please RSVP by clicking here.

Oct 25, 2011

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Oct 20, 2011

Capitalism will drive demand for solar energy

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

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

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

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

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

First, some basic, but important, data.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Oct 11, 2011

Renewed Energy

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

Re-posted from the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 28, 2011

Solar Farm To Be Built at Indianpolis Airport

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 28, 2011 01:35 PM

Re-posted from the Associated Press

A solar energy farm that is expected to produce enough electricity to power 1,200 homes will be built at Indianapolis International Airport.

The Indianapolis Star reports that the project will cost an estimated $35 million to $45 million to build. The array is expected to be operational by the middle of 2012. Its power will be bought by Indianapolis Power and Light Co.

The Star reports the 41,000-panel solar array will be built by a partnership of 3 Indianapolis companies.

The Star said about 85 construction jobs are expected to be created and that the long-term operation of the array is expected to create about 18 positions.

Airport officials said Tuesday that no public money is involved in development of the solar farm.

Sep 12, 2011

Solar Electric Classes Attract Participants from Across Kentucky

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 12, 2011 02:48 PM

By Andy McDonald, Director, Kentucky Solar Partnership (A KySEA member)

In August the Kentucky Solar Partnership hosted four days of trainings in Frankfort on solar photovoltaic system design and installation. Thirty two participants attended the first two-day class, “Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics.” Eighteen participants stayed for day three, “Solar Site Assessments and PV System Design,” and fourteen people attended the final day, “PV and the National Electric Code.” The classes were taught by Chris LaForge of Great Northern Solar, a NABCEP-certified solar PV installer and an ISPQ-certified PV instructor.

Chris LaForge Instructing Solar Classes

Instructor Chris LaForge with students outside KSP's Solar Trailer

Our participants included electrical contractors, solar electric contractors, recent college graduates, engineers, and others exploring solar energy as a potential career path. Two students from the University of Louisville will use the knowledge they gained as they help design U of L’s entry in the international Solar Decathalon solar home design competition. Four participants will receive Continuing Education Units from the Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction to support their electrician’s licenses.

Our participants came from a wide geographic area, ranging from Paducah to Prestonsburg to the Cincinnati Metro area. One person came all the way from Missouri and another from Evansville, Indiana.

andys solar home

Andy McDonald discusses his home's solar PV installation

On the second day of the training the class made a field trip to my home to view my recently-installed grid-tied solar PV system. This five panel, 1.125 KW array is a ground-mounted, battery-free system that was sized to meet 100% of my family’s annual electricity needs. Participants also had a chance to view KSP’s Solar Trailer, which demonstrates an off-grid, battery-based PV system. The chance to view operational PV systems in real-world applications was a highlight of the trainings for many participants.

Chris LaForge and Solar Pathfinder

Chris LaForge explains how to use a solar pathfinder

Nine of our participants were able to attend thanks to financial support offered by MACED (the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development). MACED supports the development of small businesses in eastern Kentucky and has a special emphasis on supporting sustainable energy enterprises. In addition to financial assistance to attend ASPI’s workshops, MACED also offers financing for business development investments, “energy microloans” for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments for eastern Kentucky businesses, and technical assistance to building trade contractors. MACED also has a Certified Energy Manager on-staff to provide energy consulting.

Coming up in October KSP will be hosting a five-day, hands-on installation training. Many of our participants from August will be returning to gain hands-on skills as we install an off-grid solar electric system on a mobile trailer. Registration for the October workshop is already full.

To learn more about MACED’s Energy Efficient Enterprises project, contact Elizabeth Graves at 859-986-2373 or egraves@maced.org.

Sep 07, 2011

Worldwide solar panel oversupply knocking out U.S. manufacturers while making solar competitive with coal

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 07, 2011 12:15 PM

By Dan Hofmann, RegenEn Solar (A KySEA member)

(Editor’s note: In the last two weeks, three large American solar panel manufacturers including Evergreen Solar and Solyndra have sought bankruptcy protection due to increasing competition from China and plummeting solar panel prices. There’s been a 70-percent decrease in solar panel prices over the last 24-month, according to industry sources.)

Global competition and Europe’s budget woes are having an unexpected effect on the residential solar-energy business, a trend that’s bad for U.S-based manufacturers, but great for consumers.

The price of solar panels has dropped so dramatically during the first six months of  2011 that now, for the first time, solar  is competitive in pricing coal-fired electricity from LG&E.
The way panel prices are falling, even without the federal tax credits that expire in 2016, solar has reached parity with coal-fired plants.

This is a big deal.

Many – if not most – contractors in the industry can install a solar panel system for 8 cents per kilowatt-hour (after tax credits), the same rate that LG&E residential customers currently pay.

And LG&E rates are set to increase by 19.2 percent during the next five years while solar customers would be locked in at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for 25 years.

usa versus chinese loans to solarThe drop in solar panel prices is due to an unexpected reduction in government incentives throughout Europe that caused an oversupply for solar manufacturers worldwide.

Increased production from heavily subsidized Chinese manufacturers that can crank out solar panels at extremely low prices also contributes to the price drop.

As these solar panels prices fall, the U.S. industry is passing those savings directly to the homeowner.

There are economies of scale with solar, so the price per kilowatt-hour can range from 10 cents to 7 cents depending on the amount of kilowatt-hour usage per year. Some homeowners we talk to use 7,000 kilowatts per year while some people with large houses use 50,000 kilowatts per year,

The average LG&E residential customer uses about 11,500 kilowatts per year. This also applies to large commercial facilities where we can match the cost per kilowatt rate of around 3 cents.

The arithmetic behind the cost per kilowatt for solar is the amount of electricity the solar panels are guaranteed to produce while under warranty.

The industry standard is 25 years on the solar panels and, more recently, some inverters.

So, you take the upfront installation cost (after tax credits) and divide that by the total kilowatt-hour production over 25 years.
Another benefit is that solar panels can produce electricity for 40 or 50 years, so the actual cost per kilowatt-hour could end up being much less.

It will be interesting to see how the panel price war plays out, and whether consumers will proceed with long-planned solar projects, or hang back to see how low prices go.

Homeowners could buy a system now that pays for itself in 10 years, or wait five years for a system that pays for itself over five years – the ROI time horizon would be the same.

The take away here is, we now have an endless clean energy source that costs the same as fossil fuel energy.


Aug 25, 2011

GE To Create 400-600 Jobs at Solar Power Plant

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 25, 2011 12:50 PM

Recently General Electric (GE) announced that it will build a 400 MW solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. The plant will be the largest power plant of its kind.

The $600 million plant is expected to employ 400-600 people and make enough solar panels each year to power 800,000 homes.

The announcement follows suit with market-wide acceptance that use of sustainable energy forms will continue to grow rapidly in coming years. This power plant is just one of several renewable energy and energy efficiency projects GE has underway.

GE's investment into sustainable energy has already had a sizable impact on Kentucky's green economy. A recent report about the green economy in Kentucky by the Brookings Institution stated that while jobs are being lost in other sectors, between 2003-2010, nearly 5,000 clean energy jobs were created in Kentucky. The largest job growth came in appliance manufacturing - primarily from GE investments into its high-efficiency appliance manufacturing operations based in Louisville.

When the decision to build the solar power plant was announced, GE indicated that the location would have been revealed by now - but they have made no such announcement as of today. What factors will impact their decision about the power plant's location? GE reported that the deciding factors, will include proximity to solar research facilities, labor availability, and state and local financial incentives.

GE is likely going to choose a state that has passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard and/or other market-based incentives - similar to the policies that the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance advocates to see passed in Kentucky.

Aug 17, 2011

KySEA Discusses Clean Energy Solutions With South Asian Delegation

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 17, 2011 01:25 PM

KySEA representatives Nancy Reinhart (KFTC), Casey Sterr (FCAN) and Andy McDonald (ASPI / Ky Solar Partnership) met with seven members of a "Climate Change and Clean Energy" World Affairs Council tour group yesterday.

Group members included individuals working in the clean energy field from the countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Mr. Pankaj of Nepal said he appreciated the presentations from KySEA and said he found the KySEA perspective on Kentucky's energy future refreshing and important to hear.  He noted, "After talking to the state energy department (DEDI), you would think renewable energy is not an option for Kentucky for many years and that the only choices you have right now are using coal in new ways and nuclear."

Andy McDonald responded, "When you hear them say something like - wind isn't possible - what it means is, wind is currently more expensive than coal, not that wind isn't feasible."

In driving around Kentucky, Mr. Fazlur of Bangladash said he had seen many farmlands that were suitable for wind power. He encouraged the state to think more broadly about how to use wind power, stating that you don't need a very high or powerful turbine to make enough electricity for a farm. He said that small-scale renewables such as on-farm wind are "positively good investments and will pay back quickly."

Several in the room were struck by how little Kentuckians pay for electricity and Mr. Pankaj added "and there is no way that can be the true cost of the fossil fuel electricity you use. I pay 15 cents per kilowatt hour in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. We are completely micro-hydropower driven."

Two youth from the Frankfort High School also participated and shared their hopes for the future. They told the group that many youth they know take climate change seriously and that they are doing what we can to make a change.

 

 

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Clay County, Kentucky resident Randy Wilson ran for the board of his electric cooperative on a platform of affordable energy, better energy choices, and good local jobs in 2009. Randy was the first person to oppose a sitting Jackson Energy board member since the co-op was founded in 1938. Before running for office, Randy was an active member of the Kentuckians For the Commonwealth’s Canary Leadership Network carrying a message throughout the region about the need to transition away from coal and towards clean energy.

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