Empower Kentucky is a homegrown effort to shape a people’s energy plan for our state, one that reflects a shared vision and produces positive outcomes for all Kentuckians.
This project is the outgrowth of decades of grassroots organizing by Kentuckians affected by coal, energy, and just transition issues in our Commonwealth. The Empower Kentucky project launched in mid-2015, at a time when most politicians in the state were lining up to oppose the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). But the vision and strategy that shaped this effort have always been broader than the narrow question of whether and how Kentucky should comply with the federal climate rule. Instead, the Empower Kentucky project is an effort to host an informed, creative, and inclusive public conversation about the energy future we want, and the best ways to shape a just transition to a clean energy economy.
The Empower Kentucky Plan demonstrates that a just transition to a clean energy economy is possible in Kentucky. By emphasizing energy efficiency and renewable energy and putting a low price on CO2 pollution, the plan produces more jobs, less health-harming pollution, and lower average bills than Kentucky’s business-as-usual scenario over the next 15 years. By 2032, Empower Kentucky Plan invests nearly $400 million in a just transition for affected communities and workers, reduces average bills by 10% compared to business-as-usual, and slashes CO2 pollution from Kentucky’s power sector by 40 percent. The plan also prioritizes energy efficiency in low-income communities, and limits Kentucky’s reliance on risky and polluting energy options.
A shared vision
When we asked Kentuckians about their vision for Kentucky’s energy future, we heard many common refrains.
Kentuckians want a future powered by energy efficiency and renewable energy, and we want to get started now. We want all people to have access to safe, affordable, and energy efficient housing. We want our communities and workers to benefit from the booming clean energy economy and create thousands of new jobs close to home. We want a just transition for coal workers and more clean energy investments that benefit communities with high poverty, unemployment, and racial disparities. We want to greatly reduce pollution that is harmful to our health and climate, and avoid false solutions. We want more community-based clean energy solutions, including locally owned solar farms, revolving loan funds, pay-as-you-save financing and worker-owned cooperatives. We want our industries to be leaders in efficient manufacturing and advanced renewable energy systems. And we want our energy system to reflect our core values, including justice, sustainability, and democracy.
The Empower Kentucky Plan is loaded with recommended actions that are needed to make progress towards that shared vision. Many of these proposals are already working right now in parts of Kentucky or other places around the country. But better public policies are needed to remove barriers and open doors so all Kentuckians to benefit from the booming clean energy economy.
We seek to build a new clean energy system that …
- is fair and equitable
- invests in a just transition for affected workers and communities
- creates good quality jobs and opportunities
- significantly reduces risks and harm to our health, environment and climate
- prioritizes low-risk, no-regrets energy solutions
- encourages self-reliance, local ownership and community-based solutions
- empowers and assists all Kentuckians to save energy and benefit from renewable energy
- supports healthy and sustainable communities, now and for future generations
- reflects sound science, a vision for a just society, and an inclusive, democratic process