New coalition gets behind renewable energy legislation

A new coalition pushing for sustainable energy is applauding a bill that would require the state's electric utilities to generate more than 12 percent of their sales from renewable sources by 2020.

House Bill 408, introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, also would set up a program to retrofit or replace low-income homes to make them more energy efficient.

Legislators could have one or possibly two other renewable energy bills to consider before the session ends.

The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, formed last August, is behind Moberly's bill. The alliance claims 25 members, including renewable energy businesses, service organizations and groups that deal with faith, social justice, agriculture, the environment and health.

"What this bill does is help Kentucky prepare for the energy transition that's coming," said Jason Bailey. He is policy and research director for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, one of the alliance members.

Sherrie Davison, who works with Morehead-based Frontier Housing, said the section of the bill requiring help for low-income people is important.

Kentucky has a lot of mobile homes that were built before federal regulations began requiring insulation in 1976, she said. The bill could provide money for those homes to be replaced.

Poor people, who can least afford it, spend a higher percentage of their income on energy, she said.

Last year, House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, introduced a renewable energy bill that would have directed the state to develop policies toward a renewable energy plan. Unlike Moberly's bill, it did not mandate goals. It died after being amended in the Senate.

Susan Klimchak, a spokeswoman for Adkins, said Wednesday that he is working on a possible proposal for the current session.

Len Peters, secretary of the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, said last month that there probably would be renewable fuels legislation coming out of a task force that studied the issue.

Karen Wilson, his chief of staff, said Wednesday that she has no information on any other renewable energy legislation. The agency is reviewing Moberly's bill, she said.

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