Lobbying for Renewable Energy

CapitolAnnexA trip to the state capital for the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance Lobby day

Hi, My name is David Butler and this is the podcast for people that can’t wait to switch to renewable energy.

The show has three segments.

  1. I tell some odd story that has almost nothing to do with anything.
  2. I talk to someone who is doing something interesting with renewable energy.
  3. I give you an update on my midlife energy crisis project in which I try to pester people into helping me raise money to install solar panels on a low income home.

An Odd Story

I don’t consider myself an activist but when I was eight years old I did. I couldn’t remember all the details so I asked my Mom and Dad.

People Who Are Doing Something Interesting with Energy

Lisa Abbott of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Lisa Abbott gets everybody ready to talk to legislators about the Clean Energy Opportunity Act during KySEA’s Lobby day.

For this episode we took a trip to Frankfort, Kentucky, the state capital, for the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance’s Lobby Day. We listened to Lisa Abbott with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth give the group of volunteer lobbyists their marching orders before sending us off to meet with legislators. The lobbying effort for the day was focused on the Clean Energy Opportunity Act. Lisa explained what the bill said and the key features that might appeal to legislators as well as the points that they would probably not like.

Listening back to the audio that I recorded in this busy committee room I was impressed by how well my recorder picked up Lisa’s voice and questions and comments from the volunteers. And, I was horrified to hear how noisy my raincoat was as I settled into my seat and got my camera out. It sounded like I was putting up a tent. Lesson learned, don’t wear a raincoat.

After getting assigned to talk to a legislator I grabbed Matt Partymiller, a Lexington solar installer and got him to go with me. He was a lot more prepared than I was and I was glad he agreed to go. Theresa, another volunteer joined us and off we went, a few minutes late.

The meeting went pretty well but the legislator that we spoke to rejected the renewable portfolio standards as mandates just as Lisa said could happen. Luckily Matt switched the conversation to the low ceiling on our net metering policy and the fact that it essentially prevented businesses and schools from participating. The legislator seemed to agree that this was a problem.

After the meeting I was able to interview Matt about the details and shortcomings of the current net metering policy. He also explained tariffs, a policy which allows companies or organizations to sell power back to utilities for the avoided cost even if their system is too large to qualify for net metering. Avoided cost is much less than the retail cost of power so this isn’t a very lucrative option and it effectively doubles the payback time for a system.

Matt Partymiller

Matt Partymiller, Solar Energy Solutions, heads off to lobby for renewable energy in Kentucky.

An Update on my Midlife Energy Crisis Project

Then I asked my friend John Herzog to help me with my midlife energy crisis project. As it turned out he hadn’t listened to episode 1 yet so he wasn’t sure what I was talking about but he signed up to help without too much begging. I have my first victim. I told him that I wanted to put on a concert to raise money to install solar panels on a low income home.

Resources and Links

The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA) is an umbrella organization made up of non-profits, companies and individuals that are interested in promoting renewable energy and efficiency. You can see a list of KySEA members here.

Lisa Abbott is the Organizing Director for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. They are one of the many organizations that make up the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance.

Matt Partymiller’s company is Solar Energy Solutions. They install solar systems in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee.

John Herzog and I have played in the band Rebel Without A Cause off and on for about 30 years. We are available for parties and weird weddings.

Thanks

Thanks to Lisa Abbott and Tyler Offerman and everyone else in KySEA who worked so hard to put Lobby day together. It was amazing to be able to just show up and have a conversation with a legislator. Hopefully that will pay off.

Thanks to Matt Partymiller for his great explanation of net metering and tariffs in Kentucky.

Thanks to John Herzog for agreeing to help me organize the music, stage, sound, lights, etc. for my midlife energy crisis.

Thanks to the Otto Helmuth and the rest of the Blueberries for the featured music.

Special thanks to Keaton Butler, our producer and engineer for keeping me from sounding like a boring old man in a raincoat.

 

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