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Kentucky Environmental Students Push Renewable Bill in 2017 Session

  Members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition met with state legislators Friday to discuss the Energy Opportunity Act, a bill KSEC hopes to pass this legislative session.

Fifteen-year-old KSEC Political Working Group Media chair Grace Engelman says bipartisan support is critical for job opportunities for young Kentuckians as “climate change issues” will affect them most.

“Kentucky has always been an energy leader, and right now we are falling behind, because new energy is renewable energy, so it's important that Kentucky stays ahead by diversifying its energy portfolio,” said Engelman.

Perhaps it is best to look at the bill as an economic focus rather than energy said Engleman.

“Energy related legislation is just hard to pass in Kentucky because of how depressed our coal industry has become and a lot of legislators fear that passing this type legislation will make their constituents unhappy because a lot people see renewable energy as taking away from coal--when in reality coa,l is declining on its own because it's becoming more and more expensive to extract.” Engleman added that future jobs lie within the renewable market.

State House Representative Mary Lou Marzian and Senator Reginald Thomas agree and plan to represent the bill.

Sen. Thomas said from a market standpoint the state is moving in that direction anyway.

“Each year, utility companies and energy companies are adding renewable fuels to their portfolios, it is not the dominant source, but more and more they are adding it as a source. And as they do that, then at some point we will reach a tipping point in which renewable fuels will become a major part of their portfolio, I want Kentucky to lead in that effort.” Thomas said.

The Energy Opportunity Acts aims to increase utility companies’ renewable energy production by 12.5 percent and increase energy efficiency by 10.25 percent over the next 10 years. The legislation also introduces feed-in tariffs to Kentucky utilities, which would give Kentuckians the opportunity to become energy entrepreneurs.

“The intent of the bill is for the state to set some standards to become more energy efficient and to increase our usage of alternative fuels, greener fuels in the state. This year I did it in the form of a resolution, so that its not really a law but it's adopted by both houses so we can form a taskforce or begin to look at laws whereby we can become more energy efficient,” said Thomas.


Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.
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