As the coal industry is in steep decline in Eastern Kentucky (Over 6,000 jobs have been lost in the past two years.) and politicians on both sides of the aisle are actually pledging to work together to deal with the problems, this is the time to figure out what we care about, where we want to head, and to share it with others. I was one of some 1,500 people contributing ideas to the mix at the SOAR Conference that was held on December 9th in Pikeville. Governor Beshear has committed to make this a process, one to gather ideas and take action, not a one-time meeting and not just another study. I’m hoping that we can get the ball rolling on a potential partnership to help people who live in old mobile homes that have high energy bills get into something more affordable, that is, a very low-energy home. At the same time it could help keep the electric grid in shape, keep power affordable, create jobs and reduce health impacts of coal-fired power. Never hope, just do!
East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s Demand Side Management and Renewable Energy Collaborative has just wrapped up its two year process in which EKPC, 16 rural electric distribution co-ops and public interests groups worked together to devise practical ways for the utilities to include energy efficiency and renewable energy more fully in their portfolios. The Collaborative was created out of an agreement between EKPC and the Sierra Club, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Environmental Foundation and individual rate payers in which EKPC abandoned plans to build a 278 MW coal-fired power plant in Clark County, Kentucky. The formal process ended in October this year; however, the group plans to continue the work on an informal basis. I hope to remain part of the process and focus on the tremendous potential affordable, low-energy homes have as a demand side management tool, particularly when replacing pre-1976 mobile homes. The closing statement of the public interest groups can be found here. Our fearless leaders wrote an op-ed about the process and outcomes here.