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The Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy in Kentucky


Distributed renewable energy systems could generate up to 34 percent of Kentucky’s electricity by 2025


June 18, 2012


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.





Green Energy



Full Report:

The Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy in Kentucky