KY Students Meet Legislators to Advocate for Energy Opportunity Act
Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition members are lobbying legislators on the House Standing Committee on Tourism Development and Energy to vote for the Energy Opportunity Act. The youth feel their future is being blocked by state officials who are dragging their feet on legislation that could create 28,000 jobs and reduce the state’s carbon emissions. Kentucky youth met with Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, Rep. Brian Linder, Rep. Tom McKee, Sen. Julian Carroll, and Sen. Reginald Thomas for KSEC’s third Energy Lobby Day.
By passing the Energy Opportunity Act, Kentucky would adopt a renewable and energy efficiency portfolio standard, or REPS, that would increase utilities’ renewable energy production by 12.5 percent and increase energy efficiency by 10.25 percent within a period of 10 years.
“Similar legislation has already passed in over half of the states in the U.S. and we have seen many positive outcomes. This legislation creates jobs, boosts the economy, and lowers electricity bills,” KSEC Renewable Energy Organizer Will Cripps said.
The act was originally introduced to the House in 2010 and has been placed in the House Standing Committee on Tourism Development and Energy each session since. The committee has yet to vote on the act.
“Every year the committee ignores this legislation is another year our elected officials prevent Kentucky from gaining 28,000 jobs and another year we fall behind states who are embracing the new energy economy,” KSEC Organizer Cara Cooper said. “KSEC would like to see this bill go to vote so we can know which legislators truly support economic development in our state and which legislators are content to let our communities suffer as the coal industry declines”
Passing this legislation would be a demonstration that elected officials are listening to young voices and are working to bring about a healthier, brighter future for the youth of Kentucky.
Tracy Blevins is a member of the KSEC Just Transition Steering Committee and is from Van Lear, Kentucky. She thinks the legislation could be beneficial to coalfield communities by providing much needed work. “The Energy Opportunity Act could be instrumental in introducing a just economic transition in Kentucky. In a state with extraordinary potential to implement alternatives, such as solar, wind, and hydro energy production, increased use of renewable energy technologies could help alleviate long standing problems like unemployment, pollution, and the destruction of our natural resources,” Blevins said.
“Our utilities are government-sanctioned monopolies and energy production is not solely governed by the free market. Fossil fuel companies receive millions of dollars in subsidies and tax cuts. We ask that our elected officials represent the economic interests of their constituents by encouraging utilities to substantially increase their production of renewable energy and provide a greater variety of choices to their customers. Renewable energy can provide low electric rates and well-paying, safe jobs for Kentuckians.”
The legislators are interested in learning more about how renewable energy and energy efficiency can benefit Kentuckians. KSEC is calling on the Tourism Development and Energy Committee to vote on the act during the upcoming legislative session.