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People's Energy Plan for Kentucky Proposed

Public News Service

Saying a transition to clean energy is an opportunity for Kentucky, not a burden, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has released its Empower Kentucky Plan, the organization's blueprint for the state's energy future.

The grassroots citizens group began working on the plan nearly two years ago, when state leaders rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on pollution from coal-fired power plants. The plan was crafted from statewide public input and in-depth analysis.

Chris Woolery, a residential energy efficiency expert from Lexington, worked on the plan and says moving to a cleaner, more efficient energy system would pay dividends in many ways.

"More jobs, less pollution, lower bills," he stresses.

The Empower Kentucky Plan calculates transitioning to clean energy would reduce overall energy consumption by 17 percent over a 15-year period and would cut electric bills by 10 percent, with 25 percent of the power coming from renewables.

Many of Kentucky's leaders have steadfastly maintained that adopting the Clean Power Plan would increase electric bills and hurt the economy. The state joined the legal challenge to the Obama-era effort to curb pollution.

Cassia Herron, an urban planner from Louisville, says despite roadblocks from politicians and the coal industry, she sees a groundswell of grassroots support for cleaner energy.

"We will be seeing candidates running campaigns on wanting to diversify our energy consumption because Kentuckians are asking and demanding it,” she asserts. “The crop of politicians we have now, they are going to be pushed to do that."

While coal remains Kentucky's dominant energy source, it's now below 90 percent and Woolery says the national trend is toward renewable sources.

He warns that if Kentucky does not accelerate its transition, it will be left behind.

"For instance, in North Carolina they've created thousands of jobs,” he points out. “They've invested billions of dollars in solar on a similar solar profile that Kentucky has. And that's because they have a mandate and a renewable portfolio standard."

Woolery says jobs and economic development are the most significant findings in the Empower Kentucky Plan – projecting that the transition to clean energy would create more than 46,000 jobs over 15 years and generate $400 million in investments.