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Revving Up Renewables in Kentucky

Coal is burned to provide most of Kentucky's energy, but the call for sustainable sources is mounting. (Greg Stotelmyer)
Coal is burned to provide most of Kentucky's energy, but the call for sustainable sources is mounting. (Greg Stotelmyer)
September 11, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. – With Kentucky lagging behind most states in the production of sustainable energy, the Sierra Club is making a push at the community level to spike interest in solar and other renewable sources.

Lexington resident and Sierra Club member Judy Humble says with renewable energy much more viable across the nation, Kentucky needs projects that would quickly help implement the use of solar.

"It's a combination of research and outreach, and public education, and finding other people in the community who are interested and also ready to support this cause," she states.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 2.35 percent of the energy produced in Kentucky comes from renewables. By comparison, it's 42 percent in neighboring Missouri. Kentucky ranks 45th among all states.

In Owensboro, Sierra Club member Kari Miller says there's a grassroots effort underway to convince the city's publicly owned utility to use some emission free energy sources.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities has announced plans to retire its two coal-fired power plants and stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2023.

Miller says to move toward sustainable energy, it's important to educate people about the benefits of solar and wind power.

"The price of renewables is getting cheaper, and it's just letting people know that this is really what's already going on," she points out.

Humble notes that most energy companies in Kentucky are creating pilot solar arrays as part of their own energy transition. However, she says the big push for solar energy is coming from big business – and residential use also is beginning to take off.

"People who have acquired residential solar are extremely satisfied with it,” Humble stresses. “It's sort of like 'pay once, benefit forever.' And I think the advances in technology and the decline in cost is going to help make it much more feasible in Kentucky."

Humble says the Bluegrass chapter of the Sierra Club is planning a solar open house in Lexington next month to introduce people to the benefits of renewable energy.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY