The Kentucky Solar Energy Society's mission is to promote the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation in Kentucky through education, advocacy, networking, and demonstration of practical applications.
November 15, 2023
Alliance of grassroots community groups win victories in landmark decision by KY PSC in case brought by Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities Companies
Kentucky Public Service Commission denies one of two proposed gas plants and approves two of four coal plant retirements, while approving major solar buildout and expanded customer efficiency programs.
Frankfort, Kentucky - The KY Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a landmark decision in a case brought by Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities Company (LG&E-KU). The Order will have major long-term impacts for LG&E-KU’s ratepayers and the future of energy and the environment in the Commonwealth. In the Order, the Commission denied construction of one of two proposed gas plants, approved the retirement of two coal plants and three gas plants while deferring retirement of two other coal plants, and approved a major buildout of solar facilities, a utility-scale battery plant, and a significant expansion of customer energy efficiency programs.
The Mountain Association, Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Kentucky Solar Energy Society, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, who intervened in the case collectively as the “Joint Intervenors,” see the decision providing many victories for ratepayers, although mixed with some bitter losses. While the Joint Intervenors are disappointed with the Commission’s approval of a new natural gas plant and choice to keep two aging coal plants open, the overall Order offers major advances for clean energy in Kentucky.
“The denial of a $650 million, 40 year commitment to a risky natural gas plant is a major victory for ratepayers,” said Catherine Clement of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. “And the closure of those old Mill Creek coal units will mean better air quality for the people of Louisville and the surrounding region.”
This was the first case considered by the Commission since passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 4 earlier this year, a bill making it harder for utilities to retire old coal plants. The new statute requires utilities for the first time to receive approval from the PSC before retiring fossil fuel generators. This ruling provided the first indication of how the Commission would implement the statute.
“LG&E-KU had wanted to retire four coal plants because they are too costly to operate and require massive investments to bring into compliance with air and water quality regulations,” said Joshua Bills of the Mountain Association. “Although the Commission decided to keep two of these old coal plants open for the time being, they established a pathway for how such plants can be retired in the future. Importantly, they noted that the success of customer efficiency programs and the growth of distributed energy resources (like rooftop solar) could reduce demand enough to allow these coal plants to be retired without costly new power plants in the years to come.”
“We are excited to see the expansion of the utilities’ customer efficiency programs,” said Tony Curtis of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition. “We look forward to collaborating with the utilities to help make these programs a great success for their customers, especially those who struggle to pay their bills each month and can really benefit from home energy improvements.”
The Order approved all six of the utilities’ proposed solar facilities, which at a combined 877 megawatts (MW) will produce enough energy to serve about 90,000 homes. The Commission also approved a 125 MW battery, another landmark development in this case, as this will be by far the largest utility-scale battery in Kentucky. The Commission noted the essential role batteries could play in the ongoing energy transition in Kentucky, as utilities shift away from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable resources.
“This Order is a major victory for clean energy in Kentucky,” said Andy McDonald of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society. “LG&E-KU proposed the largest-ever build-out of solar in Kentucky and the Commission approved their entire proposal because it will improve reliability and lower costs for customers.”
Chris Woolery of the Mountain Association said, “Successful energy efficiency programs can save enough energy to offset the need for new power plants and that’s the lowest cost solution for customers. But it takes time to ramp up energy efficiency programs, so utilities need to make their efficiency plans before they start planning for the next generation of power plants. While we are pleased that LG&E-KU are rolling out these new efficiency programs, there’s so much more they could do. In ‘Pay As You Save’ programs, the utility invests in energy upgrades in customer’s homes and businesses. The investment gets paid back through the utility bill, while the customer enjoys home improvements and lower bills. I’m grateful the PSC has approved the utilities’ new efficiency programs and I urge them to embrace a PAYS program as a means to make these new programs a greater success.”
The Joint Intervenors received pro bono legal representation in this case from the Kentucky Resources Council and Earthjustice.# # #
July 23, 2023
BY ISABELLA O’MALLEY AND MICHAEL PHILLIS (AP)
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — On a recent day under the July sun, three men heaved solar panels onto the roof of a roomy, two-story house near the banks of the Kentucky River, a few miles upstream from the state capitol where lawmakers have promoted coal for more than a century.
The U.S. climate law that passed one year ago offers a 30% discount off this installation via a tax credit, and that’s helping push clean energy even into places where coal still provides cheap electricity. For Heather Baggett’s family in Frankfort, it was a good deal.
“For us, it’s not politically motivated,” said Baggett. “It really came down to financially, it made sense.”
On August 16, after the hottest June ever recorded and a scorching July, America’s long-sought response to climate change, the Inflation Reduction Act, turns one year old. In less than a year it has prompted investment in a massive buildout of battery and EV manufacturing across the states. Nearly 80 major clean energy manufacturing facilities have been announced, an investment equal to the previous seven years combined, according to the American Clean Power Association.
“It seems like every week there’s a new factory facility somewhere” being announced, said Jesse Jenkins, a professor at Princeton and leader of the REPEAT Project which has been deeply involved in analysis of the law.
“We’ve been talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America for my entire life. We’re finally doing it, right? That’s pretty exciting,” he said....
To read the full article, visit here.
April 5, 2023
KYSES Launches Solarize Campaigns in Three Kentucky Cities
KYSES has partnered with the cities of Frankfort, Lexington, and Louisville to launch local Solarize campaigns to help make it easier and less costly for residents and small businesses to install solar on their properties.
Solarize programs connect participants with pre-screened, vetted solar contractors, selected through a competitive price and performance bidding process. This saves participants the trouble of shopping around for contractors and provides discounts up to 15% off of typical prices.
These three Solarize campaigns build on the highly successful Solar Over Louisville campaign in 2022, in which 92 PV systems, totaling over 800 KW, were installed.
Enrollment deadlines vary with each city, so if you’re interested in applying, check out their program requirements at the following links:
Solarize Frankfort - Installation partners: Pure Power Solar & Wilderness Trace Solar
Solarize Lexington - Installation partner: Solar Energy Solutions
Solar Over Louisville - Installation partners: Icon Solar and Solar Energy Solutions_____________________________________________________________________
October 31, 2022
Kentucky Regulators Embrace Many Recommendations from Citizen’s Groups for Improving LG&E/KU’s Long-Term Planning
By Andy McDonald, Apogee-Climate & Energy Transitions
In September 2022 the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its Final Staff Report on the 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) from Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities Company (LG&E/KU). Kentucky’s regulated electric utilities are required to submit these long-term plans to the PSC every three years, to help ensure that they are adequately planning for their customers’ future needs. The Kentucky Solar Energy Society (KYSES) formally participated in the IRP process, along with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Metro Housing Coalition, and the Mountain Association, who together were known as the Joint Intervenors and were represented by the Kentucky Resources Council and Earthjustice.
The PSC Staff Report reflected many of the concerns shared by KYSES and the Joint Intervenors, and placed the utilities on notice that they need to meet a higher standard in their planning process.
Key points from the PSC Staff Report include:
Additional concerns with the IRP identified by the Joint Intervenors:
The PSC Staff Report represents a notable change in how the PSC reviews utility IRP’s, raising expectations that future IRP’s will be handled with much greater seriousness and transparency by the state’s regulated utilities.
KYSES and our allies will continue to push utilities to create long-term plans prioritizing a rapid shift to clean, renewable energy, distributed generation, affordable access, and the health of our communities in response to our changing climate. KYSES is presently engaged in multiple cases before the PSC, including LG&E/KU's application to build substantial new generation capacity along with new demand side management programs (Case # 2022-00402) and the East Kentucky Power Cooperative's (EKPC) IRP (Case # 2022-00098).
December 18, 2021
City of Frankfort Passes 100% Renewable Energy Resolution
At their October City Commission meeting, the City of Frankfort, Kentucky unanimously passed a 100% Renewable Energy Resolution. The Resolution calls for 100% clean renewable electricity for City government operations by 2023, 100% clean energy for City government by 2030, and 100% clean renewable electricity community-wide by 2030. The Resolution follows publication in March of a report by Apogee-Climate & Energy Transitions which detailed how Frankfort's local governments and public schools could meet 100% of their electricity needs with a 20 megawatt local solar facility, while reducing operational costs. Frankfort's 100% Renewables Resolution does not endorse any specific projects for achieving these goals, but establishes a clear direction and ambitious vision for Frankfort's energy future.
November 15, 2021
RECORDING NOW AVAILABLE OF WEBINAR ON LG&E/KU NET METERING DECISION
On Thursday, October 28, 2021 KYSES hosted a webinar, Net Metering Update: Review of KY PSC Order Adopting New Net Metering Rates For LG&E and Kentucky Utilities Co. To read about the webinar and view the recording, review the Past Webinars on our Events Page.
October 12, 2021
Solar Net Metering Preserved by Public Service Commission for Customers of LG&E and KU
Recent Order Another Step In Years-Long Effort By Solar And Affordable Energy Advocates to Ensure Fair Valuation of Solar Energy in Kentucky
In an Order issued September 24th setting new net metering rates for LG&E and Kentucky Utilities Co., the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has again recognized the value of local, customer-owned renewable energy in Kentucky. The Order rejected LG&E and KU’s proposal to drastically reduce the value of solar energy exported back to the utility, which would have ended net metering and slashed the value of fed-back solar power by 75% to 2.3 cents/kWh. Instead, the Commission set the new compensation rate for net exported energy at 6.9 cents/kWh for LG&E and 7.4 cents/kWh for KU.
“This decision means solar continues to be accessible and economically attractive for small businesses, non-profits, and residential customers of LG&E and KU,” said Joshua Bills, a commercial energy specialist at the Mountain Association. “By recognizing the value that locally-owned solar has to the utility, the Commission has enabled Kentucky’s local solar businesses to continue to grow and serve our communities.”
This ruling builds on a previous decision issued in May 2021 in the Kentucky Power Co. rate case and reinforces the precedent set in that case. The Commission reaffirmed principles and best practices to be used by utilities for determining the value of distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar. The Commission identified multiple ways in which distributed solar resources help the utilities avoid costs and directed that these savings be credited to customers for the excess energy they supply to the grid.
In a statement following the Order, the Commission wrote, “LG&E/KU’s avoided cost calculations contain inconsistencies and in some instances are based on false or unreasonable assumptions. Their assumptions and process for estimating costs also failed to adhere to the guiding principles the Commission outlined in the Kentucky Power net metering Order.”
The Commission rejected the utilities’ claim that net metering customers provide no savings to the utility in the areas of generation, transmission, and distribution capacity, or by reducing carbon emissions.
The Kentucky Solar Energy Society participated in this case as one of four Joint Intervenors along with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, and the Mountain Association. They are represented by Tom FitzGerald, staff attorney for the Kentucky Resources Council, and received technical support from expert witnesses James Owen of Renew Missouri and Karl Rábago. The Kentucky Solar Energy Industries Association (KYSEIA) and Sierra Club also intervened in the case in support of fair net metering rates.
The testimony by the expert witnesses for the Joint Intervenors and KYSEIA played a critical role in preserving net metering for the customers of LG&E and KU. “This case shows the importance of allowing community stakeholders to fully participate in utility rate cases,” said Catherine Clement of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “The Joint Intervenors and KYSEIA’s witnesses provided substantive, detailed, well-researched testimony to the Commission, which helped produce an outcome which is fair, just and reasonable for all ratepayers, and will help the local solar industry to grow in Kentucky. We appreciate the Commission’s acknowledgment that our perspective helps to forge a better outcome for all.”
This Order established new net metering rates for all customers of LG&E or KU installing solar after September 24, 2021. For those net metering customers with solar PV systems already in operation prior to September 24th, they have the right to continue operating under the original net metering rules for the next 25 years. Under original net metering, all energy exported to the grid is credited to the customer at the retail rate, currently about 10 cents/kWh for residential and 12 cents/kWh for small commercial customers.
Although the new net metering rates are about 25% lower than current retail rates, this reduced value only applies to net exports at the end of each monthly billing cycle. All solar energy produced and consumed on-site, within a billing period, is still fully credited against usage. The end result is that the changes adopted by the Commission will only reduce the value of a solar PV system by about 5% for future net metering customers who install enough solar to meet 100% of their annual needs. For customers with smaller solar generators, the impact on their savings will be even less.
“We commend the Commission for their diligence and performing a fair and comprehensive analysis of the net metering issue,” said Cathy Kuhn of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition. “While we believe greater value for avoided carbon emissions should be credited to net metering customers, overall, an honest, transparent, and reasoned process was used by the Commission and has produced fair, just and reasonable net metering rates.”
To read LG&E and KU's updated net metering tariffs and the Kentucky Public Service Commission's Interconnection Guidelines, visit https://lge-ku.com/residential/net-metering.
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June 8, 2021