Kentucky's demand for energy is expected to grow by 40 percent in the next 15 years. Our nation's dependence on foreign oil means the United States controls neither energy prices nor supply and demand. This reality puts our nation at risk not only of a shortage of energy supplies, but also to our overall national security.
Governor Beshear believes that, with our coal reserves, our agricultural and forestry resources and a foundation of cutting-edge energy research, Kentucky is well-positioned to be a leader in energy technology and energy production. He has championed research and development ventures at our universities, implemented programs to reduce our carbon footprint and laid a foundation to create more green jobs across the Commonwealth.
In 2008, Governor Beshear unveiled "Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky's Future," a strategic, ambitious seven-point plan that creates jobs, reduces carbon emissions and challenges the Commonwealth to think differently about how it produces energy. The plan's seven strategies are:
* Improve the energy efficiency of Kentucky's homes, buildings, industries and transportation fleet.
* Increase Kentucky's use of renewable energy.
* Increase the state's production of biofuels.
* Develop a coal-to-liquids industry to replace petroleum-based liquids.
* Implement a comprehensive effort to increase natural gas supplies, including synthetic gas produced in the coal-to-gas process.
* Initiate aggressive carbon capture/sequestration projects for coal-generated electricity.
* Consider whether nuclear power should be employed for electricity generation in Kentucky.
This plan provides a roadmap for Kentucky's path to energy independence, and has been followed by other actions Governor Beshear has taken to make Kentucky an energy leader, including:
* Joined a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency because the agency's arbitrary, unreasonable and inconsistent application of regulations threatens to end the responsible mining of coal.
* Added 19 personnel in the Division of Mine Permits to speed up the permit review process, and 15 inspectors in the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing to ensure maximum safety for Kentucky's hard-working miners.
* Helped develop the National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center. The venture is a collaboration between the Commonwealth, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Argonne National Laboratory, the country's leading federal lab for transportation-related research and development. Kentucky has a reputation for manufacturing quality vehicles, but with the arrival of Argonne, the state can also be a leader in creating advanced battery technology for the cars of the future.
* Launched the Clean Energy Corps and Kentucky Home Performance, home energy audit programs that advise Kentuckians on how to make their homes more energy efficient.
* Established the "Green Bank of Kentucky," a financial program designed to help public buildings reduce energy costs, saving taxpayers money. The successful initiative was jumpstarted with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. State & Local Energy Report magazine ranked Green Bank of Kentucky third in a list of the Top 10 Most Exciting ARRA Funded State Energy Projects.
* Formed Green Team Kentucky to encourage and educate Kentuckians about simple steps they can take to be more environmentally-friendly. Green Team initiatives include reducing energy consumption at the Governor's Mansion by 15 percent and a film competition to raise awareness about green practices. It also developed the "Governor's Garden," a statewide initiative that teaches students agriculture, science and math skills and encourages all Kentuckians to eat healthy.
* Established the Executive Task Force on Biomass and Biofuels Development to facilitate the development of a sustainable biomass and biofuels industry for energy production in Kentucky. Also increased efforts to produce more biofuels, which now supplies 6 percent of Kentucky's total transportation fuels.
* Created a consortium called the Carbon Management Research Group -- including utility companies -- to carry out a 10-year research program to develop cost-effective technologies for reducing and managing carbon dioxide in existing coal-fired plants.
* Invested On-Farm Energy Efficiency and Production Incentives funds to assist farmers in modernizing their production practices and diversify their farming operations. Farmers are to purchase items, such as energy efficient building components and on-farm upgrades and training.
* Offered Kentuckians an Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate to help them upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified household products.
* Implemented several energy conservation initiatives on the Capitol campus, reducing utility usage by one-fourth and saving taxpayers $251,000 annually.
* Created the Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund dollars to assist promising, early-stage Kentucky companies developing and commercializing alternative fuels and renewable energy technologies.
* Awarded funds to train more than 600 Kentuckians to work in emerging green industries including energy efficiency and renewable energy.
* Entered into a memorandum of agreement with the University of Louisville to operate Kentucky's Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship. The Center will serve as the vital link between public and private entities that seek to research and develop renewable energy technologies in Kentucky.