8. LOWER ENERGY BILLS and a CLEANER ENVIRONMENT
50 or 100 years ago, the word "energy" in Kentucky meant coal. However, the free market has chosen other energy sources that are cheaper and cleaner than coal. With the development of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of natural gas and oil in the 1970s and 1980s, the competitiveness of coal in the marketplace gradually declined. Between 2005 and 2010 the shale-gas industry in the United States grew by 45% a year. As a proportion of the country's overall gas production, shale gas increased from 4% in 2005 to 24% in 2012. Many old coal-burning power plants were closed, and natural gas power plants increased in number, even in Kentucky. Metallurgical coal and decreasing amounts of power plant coal will continue to be mined in Kentucky, but other solutions will continue to expand in importance.
I worked in Frankfort for 15 years (1991 to 2005), most of that time as the Assistant Director of Kentucky's State Energy Office. The primary mission of that agency is to improve energy efficiency in all sectors of Kentucky's economy: "Doing More with Less." When less energy gets wasted, both the economy and the environment thrive. I know how to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to help Kentuckians waste less energy and implement renewable energy technologies such as solar, low-head hydropower, wind power, and low-impact biomass energy. I will also ask the Energy & Environment Cabinet to evaluate the feasibility of trash-to-energy power plants in Kentucky, but only if the technology has improved to the point where it doesn't damage human health and the environment.
Many recent efforts to eliminate environmental regulations have been counterproductive and immoral. We have seen massive dieoffs of fish species due to the green algal blooms from farm chemical runoff. Those that don’t die are no longer safe to eat. If they are eaten by larger animals, they in turn become polluted. The negative health effects contribute to increased medical costs for everyone.
Scientists are clear in their warnings for the future of humanity due to climate change and the poorly-regulated corporations which precipitate it. Through energy cooperatives that are owned by the citizens, future electric bills will be among the lowest in the nation. The change over to renewable energies will bring an explosion of jobs to the state, paying high wages, teaching valuable skilled trades, and lifting Kentuckian’s buying power. Kentucky should be a leader in the energy efficiency and renewable energy field, not a follower.