KSEC Political Working Group Building Momentum for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Frankfort
By Will Cripps, KSEC Political Working Group Organizer
I joined the political working group in the begining 2015. The legislative session was just starting and the working group was gearing up to go to the capitol with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to lobby against mountaintop removal as a part of I Love Mountains Day. I skipped the lobbying because I was nervous. I did however start joining in on the conference calls. Every week. At 9 at night. It was a dedicated crew.
Tyler Offerman was the organizer of the working group at the time and had been since 2014 when the PWG was founded. It was under his leadership that the working group launched its current campaign, the Power to the People campaign. The goal of the Power to the People campaign is to pass comprehensive renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation that creates a roadmap for just economic transition. A tall order for a bunch of college students who are still trying to pass their classes.
At first the Political Working Group was part of a larger coalition, the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA). KySEA was working on passing the Energy Opportunity Act which would increase the renewable energy infrastructure in Kentucky, and create 28,000 jobs. KySEA hadn’t seen much success with the bill and many of the coalition partners were disengaging.
The PWG still had high hopes for the bill and the opportunity it could provide for Kentucky, so even as less support came from the KySEA the working group doubled down on their efforts and in the summer of 2015, a year after they began supporting the Energy Opportunity Act and 5 years after the act had first been introduced, the PWG secured the first senate sponsor, Senator Reginald Thomas. Senator Thomas was excited about the bill and to help get him up to speed on the value that renewable energy could provide in Kentucky, the Political Working Group hosted a clean energy tour. The tour was so successful that Senator Thomas has asked that it become an annual event that legislators could attend to learn about clean energy.
Moving into the 2016 legislative session the PWG kept up the pressure in the Senate, the hope being that if the Energy Opportunity Act could be moved through both the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously it would be able to go immediately to the governor's desk, or if the bill did get held up in one branch, the PWG could still push for progress in the other. This strategy has already been effective: As Representative John Short has blocked the Bill in the House, the PWG has managed to gain more support in the Senate.
2016 has been a busy year for the Political Working Group. We held a protest on the capitol lawn, planting a windmill for every 10 of our supporters. We organized the second annual clean energy tour, where even we learned some new facts. Did you know the bluegrass hosts great wind potential?
The momentum is building, every year we get closer to our goal. Clean energy will come to Kentucky, but the sooner it gets here, the more our commonwealth will benefit. If you’re interested in securing Kentucky’s future, join the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, and fight for an energy revolution.
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