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Environment Local News

Federal Government Predicts Decline in Coal-Generated Electricity in 2011, 2012

The federal government is predicting that the country’s appetite for coal will have decreased further by the end of the year.

The Energy Information Administration expects coal will generate nearly 2 percent less of the nation’s electricity than it did last year, and the amount of electricity generated from coal could decline an additional four percent in 2012. This is mostly due to a small increase in natural gas-generated electricity, and a large increase in hydroelectric power.

Though the government expects overall coal production will fall 1.5 percent in 2011, most of that is because of a drop in Western coalfields. Both Appalachian and Interior basin coal are expected to see a slight boost in production.

The bright spot for the industry in the report is that while coal production itself has fallen, coal exports rose during the first half of 2011.

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Environment Local News

LG&E Will Try to Recoup August Storm Costs

As expected, Louisville Gas and Electric is asking the Kentucky Public Service Commission to let it recover costs the incurred during last August’s storm.

The wind storm knocked down trees and power lines throughout the county, and 126,000 customers were without power.

Restoring power required outside contractors, and cost LG&E more than $7 million. If the PSC approves the rate increase, the utility estimates it will raise the average residential bill by about 20 cents a month.

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Environment Local News

Most Area Residents Should Have Electricity By Wednesday

Power should be restored to all but a few Louisville Gas & Electric customers by tomorrow. After the storm hit on Saturday, more than 119,000 in Louisville were without electricity. At 5:00p.m. there are currently more than 20,000 in Jefferson County without power.

LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling says residents should have power by Wednesday at the latest.

“I think we’re going to get the majority of our customers up today and tomorrow and we’ll have some stragglers on Wednesday,” he said. “And when I say ‘stragglers,’ I’m talking about houses where there’s a circuit where there’s a dozen or less on it.”

These are areas with lower population density farther from downtown.

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Environment Local News News About WFPL

What Is the Impact of Coal on America’s Environment, History and Culture?

Why do Americans contribute more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere than Europeans with similar standards of living? One reason is our dependence on cars, but another, less-talked-about reason is coal. Americans rely on coal for nearly half our electricity. Electrical generation pumps out more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector — cars, trucks, planes, and ships — combined.

Can we burn coal more cleanly? Can we get off of it?

Today at 1pm and 9pm, a new American RadioWorks documentary goes back to the roots of our addiction to coal, and shows how our fuel choices changed American culture and history. There are some fascinating insights into the past and the future of a country built on coal.

Listen to the documentary now.

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Local News

Summer LIHEAP Assistance Now Available

by Gabe Bullard

Summer assistance is now available in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Applications for one-time assistance for paying energy bills will be accepted starting Monday.

LIHEAP is generally only active during the winter, but due to the extreme heat, $311,000 will be distributed this week in Louisville.

The local Community Action Partnership will distribute the funds. Debbie Belt is the CAP spokesperson.

“There are a lot of families who are on fixed incomes and when you have a spike in your electric bills sometimes there’s not extra money set aside to help with that,” she says.

To qualify for assistance, Louisvillians must have a household income no more than 30 percent above the poverty level.

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Environment Local News

Three New US Energy Plans Worry Governor

The initiatives have to do with biofuels for transportation, biomass crops for energy, and capturing and storing carbon from coal-fired power plants.  One new requirement is that makers of some biofuels must demonstrate their products generate significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline– from the first seedling to the gas tank.

Another is for a coordinated federal strategy to develop technologies for carbon capture and storage, and to ensure several new demonstration plants are online by 2016.  Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has written a letter to the president, claiming any regulatory changes for coal would stifle the industry and hurt the nation’s energy supply.

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Local News

Duke Preparing Smart Grid For Indiana

Duke Energy is planning to install so-called smart power meters in 775 thousand homes in Indiana.

Duke plans to temporarily reduce rates and then increase them by 5.5% in five years.

Spokesperson Lew Middleton says the money will go toward power meters that allow homes to communicate with the power company with information about energy consumption and events such as blackouts.

“Right now, that two-way communication does not exist in any form,” he says. “As a matter of fact, the electric grid is so dumb—if you will—that when the power goes out at your home, you have to call your power company and let them know.”

The company will also request federal stimulus funds for part of the project. The plan is contingent on approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, which could hold hearings on the matter this summer.  Middleton says if it’s approved,  the project could be completed in five to six years.

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Local News

PSC Hearings Start This Week

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has scheduled a series of hearings to allow residents of the Commonwealth to sound off on proposed electricity rate increases.

The PSC will hold four hearings, starting Monday, January 5th in Louisville. Residents are invited to attend and share their views on the rate increases proposed by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric.

Both companies want to raise electricity costs by about two percent. If the PSC approves the increases, KU customers will pay an additional $4.50 per month on average, with LG&E customers paying $5.20 extra.

The three other public hearings will be held Tuesday, Thursday and the following Monday in Madisonville, Middlesboro and Lexington, respectively. A final evidentiary hearing will be in Frankfort on January 13, but public comments will be limited.

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Local News

LG&E Says Power Restored to Everyone

LG&E says power has been restored to all its customers who lost electricity in September 14th windstorm. The company returned to normal operations today, but spokesperson Chip Keeling says crews continue clean-up work.

“This will be work with customers that have their own masthead damage, the pole that’s on the side of their house, that they need to have fixed before we can restore energy to them,” says Keeling, “and just basic clean-up of the areas we’ve been working in.”

LG&E also continues to tabulate the cost of storm recovery. Keeling says officials could have some preliminary numbers in the next few days.

At least part of that cost will likely be passed on to customers through a rate hike. Such an increase would have to be vetted by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

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Local News

Windstorm Has Cost Louisville More Than $2 Million, So Far

Last week’s windstorm has cost the city of Louisville more than two-million dollars so far. And LG&E crews are still out in force, trying to restore power to about 15-thousand customers.

LG&E vice-president Chris Hermann says power has been restored to 95-percent of those who lost service, and the remainder should be returned by mid-week.

“The vast majority of our customer should be restored by mid-day on Wednesday, ” says Hermann. “There will be some stragglers, ones, twos, threes, small pockets that will slip over into Thursday and Friday and essentially by the close of business Wednesday, we’ll be moving back into normal operations.”

Also this week, six FEMA teams will be in Kentucky evaluating the disaster status of the windstorm. If they classify it a disaster, the city could be reimbursed up to 87.5% of its storm-related costs. So far, that number is $2.1-million dollars, but it’s expected to go up.