Committee hears testimony on Clean Energy Opportunity Act

KFTC and allies got a chance to discuss the potential benefits of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act during a legislative committee hearing March 6.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, the bill would create 28,000 new jobs in clean energy over the next 10 years by establishing clean energy standards for Kentucky, according to a study commissioned by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED).

Marzian presented the bill to the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee as a means to generate “jobs, jobs, jobs for our people that have been laid off.”

“I think it’s a real opportunity for the people of Kentucky and for all of us as legislators to help our constituents in this state,” Marzian said.

"It's important to know that this bill will lower the cost of energy over time to these constituents." - Chris Woolery

Through a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), the bill would establish goals to gradually increase the percentage of retail energy sales provided by renewable sources to 12.5% and to save 10.25% through energy efficiency by 2024. It would also establish a feed-in tariff, which would guarantee payment rates that utilities pay in-state renewable energy producers.

Various players in the clean energy field testified about the potential for jobs, energy savings, a boost to the economy, and even benefits to Kentucky schools.

Kacey Hoover with the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association described the benefits North Carolina has enjoyed since adopting a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard in 2007. Those benefits include increases in clean energy firms, revenue and employment in clean energy. The latest census showed 18,000 people working in clean energy jobs in North Carolina.

KFTC member Chris Woolery, who coordinates MACED’s How$mart residential energy efficiency program, said energy efficiency is a way to build capacity without spending a lot of money. “Energy efficiency over time is always cheaper,” Woolery said.

Woolery shared the example of Lacey Griffey of Benham, Kentucky, who benefitted from an energy efficiency upgrade to her home provided through How$mart, which targets low- to moderate-income people. Her electric bill decreased by more than 50%.

“It’s important to know that this bill will lower the cost of energy over time to these constituents,” Woolery said.

Architect Kenny Stanfield described Richardsville Elementary School, which is the nation’s first net-zero-energy public school. Located near Bowling Green, the school generates as much clean energy on-site as it uses in a year. The average school using conventional energy sources spends about $200,000 per year on energy – an amount that can now be used in the classroom at Richardsville.

Rep. Keith Hall, who chairs the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee, did not call the bill for a vote but said he’d like to see a copy of North Carolina’s Senate Bill 3, which established an REPS in that state, and to continue the conversation around clean energy.

Comments

Nothing would help the working poor more than keeping money in their pockets instead of paying it to the energy companies.

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