FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) – A state that was once known for coal, could become a haven for solar power. Wednesday afternoon Kentucky lawmakers talked about the impact solar power is having across the state.
“Costs have declined enough to be price competitive with our coal and natural gas resources,” said Kenya Stump, executive director of the Office of Energy Policy.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently released a report saying solar energy has the potential to supply up to 40% of the nation’s electricity within 15 years. Solar providers are already building in Kentucky, with at least 28 projects underway.
“All of Kentucky is potentially developable by solar,” said Mark Walter with Savion, LLC.
Industry professionals told lawmakers that solar facilities could bring jobs.
“It is high paying electrical jobs, communications, computer science,” said Emily Williams with Kentucky Greenex Solar.
But some people are worried the facilities could destroy farmland.
“We don’t want to lose our farmland that we need for food production to something that might not be beneficial to the most of us,” said Julie Burton with Citizens Voice of Mason County.
Others say the facilities could reduce property values and hurt local tourism.
“Frankly people don’t travel to look at solar panels. I would question whether this would impact things ranging from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” said Will Mayer with Clark Coalition.
People also talked about the need for enhanced regulation and decommissioning solar sites once they’re no longer in use.
Lawmakers said they will continue to meet with industry professionals and members of the community to determine how solar power can best serve Kentucky.
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