CPI Report: Energy Efficiency - Fastest, Cleanest, Most Cost Effective

Mary Potter, West Kentucky Journal

CPI Report: Energy Efficiency - Fastest, Cleanest, Most Cost Effective  | energy, conservation, net zero, Kentucky, coal, Commonwealth Policy Institute, The Women's Network,

(Midway, KY) - " The Commonwealth's stated strategy defines energy efficiency as "the fastest, cleanest, most cost-effective and most secure way to meet Kentucky's growing demands." The state has one of the highest per capita energy usage rates in the nation. Therefore energy efficiency holds tremendous conservation opportunities and should command the highest priority in both budget and effort." (Kentucky's Energy Future...at the Crossroads, page 3)

Sarah Lynn Cunningham, Director of Louisville Climate Action Network, walks the walk of energy efficiency. The owner of an older home in Louisville, she set out to change a drafty old house into a model of energy efficiency. Installing solar panels the roof, new air tight windows, caulking the drafts which she searched out with 21st century infrared technology, she updated her home and downgraded her energy bill. Her electric bill each month? $11 - the metering fee.

Cunningham's task was to introduce the first recommendation of the Commonwealth Policy Institute report "Kentucky's Energy Future...at the Crossroads."

In her presentation to those attending The Women's Network conference on Saturday, she said that changes in energy usage on a wide scale would be enough to meet the goal of reducing Kentucky's goal of reducing power usage by 18% by 2025.

Cunningham recommends the state make changes to the way it allows municipalities to regulate building codes. Under state law, she said, Jefferson County's codes could be no stricter than the rest of the state.

She spoke of energy inefficient mobile homes, saying they should be replaced with manufactured homes. The barrier to replacement? Money, of course.

Cunningham believes strongly that investment in energy efficiency will create jobs that cannot be outsourced. Retrofitting old buildings to use less energy has to be done here at home and cannot be exported overseas.

Energy efficiency would also create more wealth for those who can least afford high energy bills, the poor and lower middle class. It is those groups who spend an disproportionate share of their incomes on heating and air conditioning their homes.

The Commonwealth Policy Institute report "Kentucky's Energy Future...at the Crossroads." recommendations for improving energy efficiency:

• Legislate a Net Zero standard for all new Commonwealth schools and public buildings, and retrofit existing buildings to the best extent possible, including a provision to allow surplus electricity to be sold back to the utility provider.
• Legislate building codes for low-energy buildings, and establish an efficient and uniform code applicable to all jurisdictions.
• Legislate doubling the existing energy-efficiency tax credit.
• Legislate industry participation in demand-side management and eliminate blanket opt out provisions.
• Legislate additional energy education funds to the Energy and Environmental Cabinet; hire additional personnel to organize outreach efforts.
• Legislate a financing plan added to homeowners' utility bills, and legislate Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to provide a financing model through annual property tax assessments.
• Legislate recapitalization of the Green Bank.

To read "Kentucky's Energy Future...at the Crossroads" click on More