environment

LG&E Proposes Largest Solar Field In Kentucky

41 minutes ago
Duke Energy

Louisville Gas and Electric is seeking approval from state utility regulators to build the largest solar array in Kentucky.

If approved, the 100-megawatt plant in Hardin County would be one of at least four utility-scale projects coming online in Kentucky in the next three years. The project would be 10 times larger than the current title holder, a 10-megawatt LG&E facility near Harrodsburg.

The push for more solar in Kentucky follows a countrywide trend as utilities increasingly turn to renewables for new electricity generation.

Brittany Patterson

An attorney for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet told a federal judge Wednesday that the bankrupt coal company Blackjewel has accrued nearly 300 environmental violations since it entered bankruptcy in July.

“It’s essential that these violations are addressed, abated, and that they stop accruing,” Cabinet attorney Lena Seward told bankruptcy judge Frank Volk in the hearing. “There is potential for human and environmental harm.” 

 


Kentucky Leads The Country In 2020 Coal Retirements

Jan 21, 2020
Erica Peterson

Two of the largest coal-fired power plant retirements in the U.S. in 2020 are happening in Kentucky.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Paradise Unit 3 near Drakesboro is scheduled to shutter this December while Owensboro’s Elmer Smith Generating Station will cease operations in June.

These older, more inefficient power plants are the latest to be priced out of the market, and are now trudging toward the elephant graveyard of legacy coal-fired plants in the Ohio Valley.

Together, power generation from the two plants represents more than a quarter of the total coal-fired capacity set to retire this year, based on an analysis using U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Kentucky Elk Research Program Launches This Month

Jan 15, 2020
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Researchers are beginning a new three-year study looking at elk reproduction and survival more than two decades after they were first reintroduced to Kentucky.

Elk used to be native to Kentucky, but settlers’ unregulated hunting wiped them out before the start of the Civil War. In the late ‘90s Kentucky Fish and Wildlife began repopulating with elk from western states.

Today, about 10,000 elk are spread among 16 eastern counties — as far west as McCreary and as far north and east as Johnson County.

 


LRC Public Information

For more than a decade, Kentucky House Rep. Jim Gooch has denied the existence of human-driven climate change.

The Republican lawmaker from Providence has chaired the House Natural Resources and Energy committee for 20 out of the last 21 years. The committee is responsible for legislation including forestry, mining, flood control, public utilities and renewable energy.

Back in 2007, Gooch made national news for holding a hearing on climate change that didn’t include any actual scientists. Gooch’s views have moderated somewhat over the past 12 years, from outright denial to begrudging acceptance that humanity has in some ways contributed to warming.

 


Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

A new study finds the closure of coal-fired power plants and transition to natural gas generation across the United States over a decade saved an estimated 26,610 lives due to a reduction in air pollution, with about a fifth of those avoided deaths in the Ohio Valley.

The coal-rich Ohio Valley states received outsized health benefits from the shift from coal to gas. The analysis found about 5,300 deaths were avoided in  Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. 

The study, published Monday in the Journal Nature Sustainability, examined the impact of the closure of 334 coal-fired units between 2005 and 2016. During that same time period, 612 new natural-gas-fired units were brought online.


Ryan Van Velzer

A bill filed ahead of this year’s legislative session would ban retailers from providing certain kinds of plastic bags and limit the use of plastic straws and foam containers.

Every year more than eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, costing at least $8 billion in damages to marine ecosystems, according to a UN Environment report. Among the largest sources of this pollution are plastic bags and single-use plastics.

 


Alexandra Kanik I Ohio Valley ReSource

The year: 2009. A Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama has just made history upon taking the presidential oath of office. The national economy is at a low point in the Great Recession. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are the first NFL team to win six Super Bowls.

Ten years later, as 2019 gives way to a new decade, the country is a radically different place, and the Ohio Valley is no exception.

The region’s economy improved, but more slowly and more modestly than for the nation as a whole. Coal, the Ohio Valley’s bedrock industry, declined sharply, bringing turmoil and uncertainty to the communities that had long depended on mining and burning coal for jobs. And an addiction crisis just coming into view in 2009 took a terrible toll on the region as it became a nationwide epidemic.

The Ohio Valley ReSource took a look at the trends that have shaped the region over the past ten years, and the data behind those trends in the Ohio Valley’s economy, environment and health.


David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

A new partnership between Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Habitat for Humanity aims to lower utility bills for 10 low-income families across the state by gifting them shares in a community solar field in Shelby County.

LG&E’s solar share program is for ratepayers who want solar energy, but for whatever reason can’t install it on their own properties. The program lets them pay a fee for a share of a large solar field and get a credit on their utility bills for the solar energy that share generates.

 


Brittany Patterson I Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal River Mountain Watch’s history of resistance to mountaintop coal mining is plastered across the wood-paneled walls of the group’s modest office in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

Framed photos, many of demonstrators being handcuffed, dot the walls. In the back of the building, a floor-to-ceiling length tapestry depicts the “true cost of coal” as envisioned by an activist volunteer group that created it. Pollution spews from a coal-fired power plant. A stream runs dirty. Anthropomorphic creatures take the place of humans.


Ryan Van Velzer

Louisville’s largest solar project is now generating power for holiday shoppers.

Mall St. Matthews in Louisville unveiled more than 1,400 solar panels on its rooftops Wednesday. The project comes two years to the day after Brookfield Properties announced its first solar project on the Oxmoor Center.

Together, the two projects amount to the state’s largest commercial installation supplying enough solar energy to power 134 homes every year, said Steve Ricketts, Solar Energy Solutions general manager and project installer.


Abbey of Gethsemani

More than 1,500 acres of field and forest in Nelson County have been established as the Abbey of Gethsemani Registered Natural Area.

The designation is made by the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves and recognizes sound ecological stewardship of the property.

The abbey has an area of high-quality, rocky grasslands called “limestone slope glades,” which are a rare natural occurrence in Kentucky.

The glades contain species including white prairie clover, sedge and prairie dock.

The Abbey of Gethsemani is a monastery near Bardstown and a part of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists.

Coal Ash Is Still Polluting Kentucky’s Green River

Dec 4, 2019
Ryan Van Velzer

Often, pollution is invisible. It’s in the exhaust particles we breathe walking past traffic, or the traces of mercury in Kentucky fish. But at the Green Station Landfill in Webster County, it’s obvious.

At times, the coal ash leachate shimmers black like an oil slick. At other times, it oozes chemical green. Sometimes, it stains the soil the color of rusted molasses. And in videos, the coal ash liquids trickle off the landfill like teal glacial waters leaving behind a pale salty residue. 

This mixture, containing elevated levels of carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals, is seeping from the Green Station Landfill into the Green River toward its confluence with the Ohio.

 


Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has fired its opening salvo in the fight over a proposed gas pipeline through Bernheim Forest.

Louisville Gas & Electric filed an eminent domain lawsuit against the state in September to overturn a conservation easement and acquire land to build the pipeline.

On Friday, the state filed a motion to dismiss the condemnation suit, arguing LG&E didn’t make an offer to buy the state’s conservation easement prior to filing the lawsuit, as required under state law.

Recent Toxic Algal Blooms Gone From Ohio River

Nov 7, 2019
Ashlie Stevens | WFPL

The Ohio River is free from harmful levels of toxic algae after more than a month of recreational public health advisories, according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The cabinet lifted recreation public health advisories along the Ohio River on Thursday after recent water samples showed a decline in toxic algae.

The algae first formed in late September when drought conditions paired with hot temperatures produced blooms along a 300-mile stretch of the Ohio River. The blooms resulted in the cancellation of the Great Ohio River Swim in Cincinnati and the swimming portion of Louisville’s Iron Man Competition.

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