More Than 8,000 New Clean Energy Jobs Possible in Kentucky

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

 
A projected 8,750 new jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors, spread out over 87 Kentucky counties, could be created in the next three years according to a new report by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies. 
The job creation would be possible through investments by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) in such clean energy measures, rather than in its proposed Smith coal fired power plant.

 
A projected 8,750 new jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors, spread out over 87 Kentucky counties, could be created in the next three years according to a new report by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies. 
The job creation would be possible through investments by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) in such clean energy measures, rather than in its proposed Smith coal fired power plant.
"Economic modeling data show enormous potential for job creation in the areas of home weatherization, hydroelectric dams, solar hot water, heating, cooling and much more," said David Eichenthal, President of the Ochs Center, a Chattanooga-based data analysis and policy research organization.  "EKPC would be doing Kentuckians a great service by enabling such job growth while providing their members with clean, reliable electricity."
For the Licking Valley and Big Sandy RECCs, which serve customers in Magoffin and surrounding counties, the job creation is estimated to be 312 over three years.
Several Kentucky environmental and economic justice organizations and an increasing number of co-op utility members are encouraging EKPC to abandon its plans for the $766 million Smith plant and instead increase investments in energy efficiency programs and renewable energy such as from wind, solar and hydro sources. 
A study released in May by Synapse Energy Economy Inc. showed that diversification of EKPC's energy sources will help protect co-op utility customers from higher costs of coal and coal burning facilities.
"We already know that energy efficiency and clean renewable energy are good for our health, good for the environment and make good economic sense," said Elizabeth Crowe with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. 
"When you add in data on new clean energy jobs and economic growth throughout the region and compare it all to the risks of a new coal burning power plant, the choice is clear:  EKPC should abandon its plans for the Smith plant and instead invest in clean energy." 
Key findings in the Ochs Center report include:
o     There is potential of 8,750 new jobs from clean energy and efficiency programs throughout the EKPC service area over a three year period;
o      Investments in efficiency and renewable energy would have a total economic impact of more than $1.7 billion on the region's economy; and
o       Clean energy jobs could be realized much more quickly than jobs from the Smith plant, since plant construction may be years away.
Besides creating a greater number of sorely-needed jobs, the energy efficiency and renewable energy portfolio in the Ochs Center report has a projected cost of $62.10 per megawatt hour, compared to most recent cost estimate for the Smith plant of $74.73 per megawatt hour.
"Kentucky is fertile ground for new jobs in the area of renewable energy," said Andy McDonald of the Kentucky Solar Partnership.  "There are a lot of people already trained in solar hot water installation, and many more people all over the state who are interested in being trained and put to work.  These are safe, solid, community-based jobs that can't be shipped overseas, and that help people save money by conserving electricity." 
McDonald said that renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are not just concentrated in one place as with power plants.  "EKPC could be a catalyst for creating green jobs all over the state, benefiting their members and the communities in which they serve," he said.
"I have serious concerns about the proposed Smith 1 Power Plant and believe there's an alternative that will be better for the environment, less costly to co-op members, and far more beneficial economically," said Rachel Harrod, a long-time resident of Owen County and a member of the Owen Electric Co-op. 
"I can't tell you how significant this would be to an area that has lost much of its agricultural base in recent years. The jobs generated by a clean energy portfolio would be a welcome boost to our local economy," she said.
Harrod continued, "If EKPC indeed wishes to do what's best for the region it serves, it will abandon plans for the new Smith Power Plant and proceed with the sustainable, clean energy approach."
Copies of the Ochs Center report and the modeling data source are available at http://www.kftc.org/stopsmith or http://www.kyenvironmentalfoundation.org.