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Clean Energy Backers: Solar's Viability in KY in Peril

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Kentucky ranks 40th nationally for solar installed, which includes about 3,000 homes. (Jon Callas/Flickr)
Kentucky ranks 40th nationally for solar installed, which includes about 3,000 homes. (Jon Callas/Flickr)
 By Mary KuhlmanContact
February 5, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Kentucky House committee is debating controversial legislation that opponents say will kill the viability of solar in the Commonwealth.

More than 100 solar supporters attended an impromptu committee hearing last week on House Bill 227, which would reduce the money solar residential customers receive from utilities for excess energy production by more than 60 percent.

That could nearly double the payback period for rooftop solar installations.

Tre Sexton, owner of Bluegrass Solar in Whitesburg, contends the bill will hurt solar customers and destroy the industry in Kentucky.

"This would mean that we would probably have to close our doors, and you're talking about hundreds of people across the state that would have their jobs put in jeopardy," he states.

There's a chance a vote could be held at the next meeting of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on Thursday.

Supporters, including state utilities, say it's about fairness and would ensure non-solar customers aren't subsidizing energy grid access for solar customers.

Tom Sexton – no relation to Tre Sexton – is the Eastern Kentucky organizer for Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club. He argues attacks on solar power are a step in the wrong direction.

"If eastern Kentucky is going to diversify its economy, solar is going to be a primary piece of it in terms of ending our dependence on coal and the energy it provides and moving to a cleaner, more sustainable source of energy," he stresses.

According to the Solar Energies Industry Association, Kentucky ranks 40th nationally for solar installed, which includes about 3,000 homes. And with more than 1,200 solar jobs, the state ranks 33rd among states.


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