It's easier being green with new loan program

State officials announced a new loan program Wednesday that will help Kentucky Educational Television and other state agencies with energy-efficiency projects.

Finance and Administration Secretary Jonathan Miller, who spoke at a news conference at KET's Lexington headquarters, couldn't resist mentioning Kermit the Frog's It's Not Easy Being Green song.

"What we've learned over the last several years is that being green not only has positive impacts for the environment, but it can also save us substantial dollars," Miller said.

Then Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled something called the Green Bank of Kentucky. It is a revolving loan fund that will start off with $18.75 million in federal stimulus money.

KET, which is likely to be the first loan applicant, needs $1.25 million to pay for energy-efficient lighting and appliances, "smart energy" temperature controls, water conservation, weather stripping and a chemical-free system to treat the water used in chillers.

Those changes are expected to save the agency $100,000 a year, which would be used to pay back the low-cost loan.

"This is an investment that I assure you will pay off," Beshear said.

Besides saving state agencies money in the long run, Beshear said, retrofitting state buildings also will mean jobs for the people who do the work.

And, he said, it could be the start of something bigger.

Also on hand for the news conference was House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, who has sponsored legislation to encourage energy efficiency.

He and the governor said they would work for legislation in the 2010 session of the General Assembly that could extend the loan program to local government, colleges and universities and public school systems.

"Some are skeptical about what we call 'going green,'" Beshear said. "But folks, we're not only putting our people to work when they need it most, but we're also saving the taxpayers of Kentucky a great deal of money."