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Seeing Solar in Kentucky

With 18 solar panels on his garage and house, Robert Chatham's Louisville home is one of many that will be on Saturday's Kentucky Solar Tour. (Robert Chatham)
With 18 solar panels on his garage and house, Robert Chatham's Louisville home is one of many that will be on Saturday's Kentucky Solar Tour. (Robert Chatham)
October 7, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If you've ever thought about going solar at home or at your business, Saturday is the perfect time to see how fellow Kentuckians have done exactly that. There will be tours tomorrow in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Lexington, Louisville and Northern Kentucky where you can see how others are harnessing free energy from the sun.

Robert Chatham, owner of a home partially powered by solar, and one of the tour organizers, said solar has become very cost-effective, providing both economic and environmental advantages.

"We're just trying to let people know that you have choices in that that solar, one: does work, and second: solar is very competitive if not better than the pricing that you're paying now for your utility bill," he explained.

Chatham said the cost of solar has dropped 50 percent in the last five years and customers, residential, commercial, and industrial can take advantage of a 30-percent federal tax credit. For tour locations go to the Kentucky Solar Energy Society's website at www.kyses.org.

Chatham, an energy consultant, said Kentucky is "playing catch-up" when it comes to solar, with only about one-tenth of one percent of the state's energy coming from solar. He said people are often told it's too expensive and doesn't work, claims that Chatham and other solar advocates are eager to dispel.

"You can't look at solar like a swimming pool or updating the kitchen," he said. "You have to look at it as an investment unless you're just going to go into a cave and not use any electricity. And there are low-interest rates. You can get two-percent loans on some of these systems."

Chatham said he installed 18 solar panels on the roof of his Louisville home last year and they provide about 60 percent of the power he needs. His is among 40 homes and businesses that will be on the Louisville part of Saturday's Kentucky Solar Tour.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY