I retired from Jelitto Perennial Seeds last month, and it’s been cold and gray in Kentucky ever since.
I’m itching for spring.
I have to be picky about my newfound spare time. I’m poring over seed and plant catalogs—a fun winter ritual—and I don’t want to be tangled up in politics when the redbuds bloom. I need to be ready to plant penstemons and phloxes in Salvisa.
But look what I’ve gotten myself into.
Politics make my blood boil.
Here, at home, the Kentucky House Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed legislation last week that could cripple Kentucky’s solar energy growth.
Business groups such as Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI) and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce have advocated strongly in support of HB 227— a bill that may jeopardize many of the estimated 1,200 solar jobs in Kentucky.
GLI and the Kentucky Chamber reside within a closed loop. You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. They are forsaking potential job loss with their support of HB 227. In this case, it’s downright peculiar that they don’t care about job loss.
Kentucky needs a secure energy infrastructure, but there’s no need to throw solar power under the bus. Solar should be a partner in job growth, providing decentralized, and secure, energy production.
House members attempted to stir up a rural-urban divide. Some contended that most of the solar installations are in larger cities. That’s not true, according to Steve Ricketts, partner with Solar Energy Solutions, the state’s largest solar installer. Seventy percent of their jobs have been outside Bowling Green, Lexington and Louisville.
How can anyone—or any group—be so afraid of science, truth and the power of the sun?
Privately generated solar provides 0.00009% (1/10,000th) of Kentucky’s power needs—not much of a current impact, and certainly not a threat. Yet there is a sense of urgency to cut solar off at the pass. (There are an estimated 1200 Kentucky residences with solar panels.)
At least one utility company sees a way out of the dependence on fossil fuels. (Take note, GLI and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.)
The sun makes so much sense. The planet is 93 million miles away and wirelessly delivers energy to Kentucky in nine seconds—free of charge!
Free and naughty, according to some warped sensibilities.
The uppity—and mostly rural—solar fiefdom is a burr in the side of the politically powerful utility monopolies. House Bill 227 is meant to punish solar energy, just when it appears “renewable energy might be unstoppable.”
The utilities stress that owners of solar power are getting a free ride and are being unfairly subsidized for the excess power they produce. All other utility customers are covering the costs of the solar elite, they argue.
Meanwhile, every Kentucky utility customer is footing the bill for the dark suits that roam the floors in the Capitol Annex, lobbying for the utility companies.
HB 227 will be up for a full house vote soon. A number of the 16 proposed amendments seek a reasonable compromise that would provide fair compensation for the value of the homeowner’s solar energy as well as fair coverage (operating and capital expenses) for the utility companies.
Why cripple Kentucky’ solar energy future?
Why jeopardize Kentucky jobs?
Don’t dim the sun.
If you are a Kentuckian, please call the Kentucky State Capitol at 800-372-7181. Tell the friendly operator you are opposed to HB 227. It will take only 2 minutes.