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A new study estimates that in 10 years, Kentucky could create over 28,000 jobs while lessening the growth of electricity bills by passing clean energy legislation currently in front of the General Assembly. Synapse Energy Economics produced the study, which is an analysis of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act introduced by Representative Mary Lou Marzian.
“This study confirms that legislation to diversify our electricity portfolio would be economically beneficial to Kentucky,” said Justin Maxson, President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
“The bill would allow the state to hedge against increasing rates by making homes and businesses more energy efficient. And it would spur the creation of clean energy jobs, installing renewable energy projects and making energy efficiency upgrades.”
“The era of cheap energy is coming to an end,” said Maxson, “and it is really a question of whether we, in Kentucky, take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the clean energy economy of the future.”
The Clean Energy Opportunity Act calls for the establishment of a renewable and efficiency portfolio standard (REPS). An REPS requires utilities to obtain a small, but growing, share of their electricity from clean renewable energy and increase their energy efficiency programs. The bill would require utilities to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable energy and achieve 10.25 percent cumulative savings from energy efficiency efforts by 2022.
Synapse’s study is a high level analysis of the proposed legislation’s impacts on Kentucky’s electricity bills, jobs, and economy. The study concludes that making small, but significant, steps to begin diversifying Kentucky’s portfolio over the next ten years will lower the bills of Kentucky’s residents, business owners, and industrial facilities compared to their bills without a clean energy standard.
Synapse projects that, under the REPS, average annual electricity bills could be eight to ten percent lower than under a do-nothing scenario. In addition to saving Kentuckians money, the REPS would lead to over 28,000 net new jobs over and above any jobs lost in fossil fuels and add $1.5 billion to gross state product once fully implemented in 2022.
“Efficiency and renewables are already the emerging trend in construction in the Commonwealth,” said Kentucky solar entrepreneur, Matt Partymiller, of Solar Energy Solutions in Lexington. “This report by Synapse captures what Kentucky engineers and contractors already know and what other states have already seen.
Legislation like the Clean Energy Opportunity Act will provide the tools necessary for Kentucky builders to create jobs while ensuring Kentucky energy costs stay low.”
The study’s findings are supported by what neighboring states that have passed similar legislation have experienced. North Carolina has seen tremendous growth in the number of clean energy firms operating in their state since passing an REPS in 2007. Ohio built on the strengths of its traditional manufacturing sector to start building clean energy equipment in state, and reap real economic benefits from their 2008 law.
Synapse carried out the study for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, a Berea-based economic development organization, and the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance, a coalition of over 50 businesses, affordable housing advocates, non-profit organizations and faith-based groups.
MACED and KySEA wanted to understand the economic impacts of an REPS in Kentucky, and a comprehensive analysis of a bill like the Clean Energy Opportunity Act has not been part of the policy conversation until now.