Energy efficiency rehabs
of low, moderate-income housing hailed for savings to families, environment LEXINGTON, Ky. - Joined by Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, partners from the housing, environmental and business communities and several volunteers, Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear today launched the pilot program of Kentucky's Clean Energy Corps (KCEC) at the North Lexington home of Leona Pena. Pena's home is the first of 100 low to moderate-income Central Kentucky homes to receive energy efficiency rehabilitation in KCEC pilot project.
"Jane and I are both eager proponents of energy conservation," said Gov. Beshear. "We've implemented many low-cost, energy saving measures in the Governor's mansion and I recently unveiled a plan to make state office buildings reduce their energy use as a part of our state's first-ever comprehensive strategy for energy independence. Through this pilot project, we hope to help many Kentucky families identify energy savings and reduce carbon emissions."
The mission of KCEC is to harness the resources of government, business, education and nonprofit sectors to make eligible homes 20-30 percent more energy efficient, saving low-income families money and thereby reducing the demand for utility assistance funds currently available to assist these families. The program also helps protecting the environment by promoting easy, everyday steps that everyone can take to capture energy savings and reduce carbon emissions in their homes, while engaging Kentuckians-particularly our youngest and greenest generation-in volunteer service for their neighbors and their communities, as well as creating or sustaining jobs in the struggling housing construction sector.
As part of the pilot program, 100 low to moderate-income families in Lexington and rural Bourbon and Clark counties will receive an energy audit to determine leaks in the building envelope and energy efficiency education and energy savings tips. The program also identifies options for energy efficiency rehabilitation, including the insulation of ducts, attics, walls and ceilings; the replacement of inefficient appliances and heat pumps; replacement of leaky doors and windows; the repair and upgrade of unsafe electrical equipment; and the repair or replacement of roofing, siding and foundations.
Select homes in the pilot program will test cutting-edge efficiency and renewable energy strategies. All Kentucky Utilities (KU) customers participating in the pilot will have their existing electric meters replaced with a Smart Energy meter to monitor and document real-time energy usage. The Smart Energy meter displays electricity usage on an in-home energy monitor, which allows customers to become more aware of when they are using the most electricity. The meter is a tool to help homeowners make better choices in their energy use.
The pilot program is a public/private partnership. Eighty percent of the funding comes from federal and state energy efficiency and low-income housing grant and loan programs. The remaining 20 percent comes from private contributions, both cash and in-kind, from individuals, corporations and organizations. Each household will be evaluated as to its ability to use energy savings to repay all or some of the costs. Any repayments will be recycled to assist new families. KU and East Kentucky Power are serving as the state's key partners in the pilot project.
The ultimate goal of the pilot is to help prepare and guide what is hoped to be a dramatic expansion of KCEC in the coming months. The program hopes to expand to 10,000 homes across the commonwealth in the next year.
State economists predict that this program could create or sustain thousands of "green collar" jobs to service the auditing and energy efficiency improvements of homes over the long term. The Clean Energy Corps is working with partners at the Kentucky Community College and Technical System and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to establish the commonwealth as a national center for green collar job training, creation and development.
"Our pilot program is an important beginning. But it is only a beginning," stated Finance and Administration Sec. Jonathan Miller, who is overseeing the state's efforts with the Clean Energy Corps. "We are very hopeful that we can leverage federal stimulus funds to take this program statewide, generating thousands of new ‘green collar' jobs in Kentucky and providing a real shot in the arm to our sluggish economy."
KCEC is drawing national attention from policy-makers and environmental advocacy groups in Washington D.C. as an initiative on the forefront of energy conservation in housing, the creation of green jobs and a sound use of the federal stimulus money.
"At a time of severe hardship in the construction sector, retrofitting residential buildings to cut energy use can save consumers money, expand economic growth, reduce pollution and create jobs," said Bracken Hendricks, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "The Clean Energy Corps provides a national model to capture this opportunity on a large scale. And Kentucky is at the forefront, proving that this model works, through the Kentucky Clean Energy Corps pilot program, launched with the leadership of Governor Steve Beshear."
Source: Kentucky Governor's Office
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