Call For Kentucky’s Rural Electric Co-ops: Increase Energy Efficiency

This story was originally published by Public News Service.

Kentucky’s two dozen rural electric co-ops could do more to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, according to a recent ranking of Southeastern rural electric co-ops. Co-op utilities provide power to 1.5-million people in nearly all Kentucky counties.

Chris Woolery, residential energy coordinator with the nonprofit Mountain Association, said while more Kentuckians want investments that will lower their monthly costs, many aren’t aware of how they can voice concerns with their local co-op. Woolery emphasized member-owners play a vital role in shaping how utilities plan for the future.

“You own the place,” Woolery said. “And they’re not hearing from you. Your co-ops probably don’t know that you care, that you believe climate change, and that you want clean energy investments.”

According to scorecards released by the group Energy Democracy Y’all, Kentucky co-ops also could take steps to improve governance and boost member-owner engagement. Woolery referred people to website K-4-E-D-dot-org, where residents can submit public comments on cooperatives’ integrated resource plans.

Skyrocketing electric bills and climate-related extreme weather events across the Commonwealth have put a spotlight on clean energy. Woolery said there are tools available to help residents boost efficiency and lower their utility bills.

“Those programs, things like net metering, community solar, and pay-as-you-save inclusive utility investments that allow people to make retrofits with no money down,” he said.

Woolery noted rural co-ops are now eligible for hefty federal incentives aimed at making the transition to clean energy smoother.

“Nonprofit co-ops can make an investment and get a thirty, or maybe even a 40% or higher, credit or actual check back from the government, since they don’t pay taxes. That’s huge. ”

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, now law, contains nearly $12-billion for rural electric co-ops to spend on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

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