The population of the “Bluegrass State,” Kentucky is approximately 4.53 million people. Kentucky is the 26th most populated state in the United States.
In 2022, Kentucky’s economy was ranked 28th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on the manufacturing, agriculture, coal, and transportation industries.
Power Generation Capabilities
In April 2023, utilities used coal (78.5%), natural gas (12.7%), and renewable energy (8.8%) to generate electricity in Kentucky. Hydropower is the dominant type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Kentucky.
In April 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Kentucky was 12.51¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.11¢ per kWh. State coal subsidies contribute to Kentucky’s below average cost of electricity.
Recent renewable energy developments in the state include:
- 188 MW Solar Project – In June 2023, Spanish renewable energy company, Acciona Energy commissioned the Fleming County Solar Project at a site approximately 60 miles east of the state capital, Frankfort.
- 173 MW Solar + 12 MW Energy Storage Project –S. Federal Corporation, Tennessee Valley Authority is continuing work on the Logan County Solar Project the southern region of the state. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 160 MW Solar Project – British utility, National Grid is continuing work on the Unbridled Solar Project at a site approximately 120 miles west of Frankfort. The project is scheduled to begin commissioned by June 2024.
- 125 MW Solar Project – Florida renewable energy company, BrightNight is continuing work on the Ragland Solar project at a site approximately 200 miles southwest of Frankfort. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 115 MW Solar Project – In June 2023, BrightNight announced plans to build the Gage Solar at a site approximately 225 miles southwest of Frankfort. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2026.
- 60 MW Solar Project – North Carolina renewable energy company, Carolina Solar Energy is continuing work on the Horseshoe Bend Solar Farm in the central region of the state. The project is forecast to be commissioned by July 2024.
- 3 MW Solar Project – In May 2023, Connecticut tool manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker commissioned a solar power project at a site approximately 225 miles southwest of Frankfort.
Coal was first mined in Kentucky in 1820. Initially, coal was used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, stoves, and forges.
In 2021, Kentucky had 101 operating coal mines, which produced approximately 26.4 million tons of bituminous coal. The coal used to fuel Kentucky’s power plants is produced in state.
In 2010, 93.1% of Kentucky’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In April 2023, 78.5% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease?
- Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America.
- Economics – The cost to generate power from coal without subsidies is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like solar.
- Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.
Kentucky utilities have announced plans to close 300 MW of coal-fueled power capacity in 2023, 297 MW in 2027, and 897 MW in 2028. Kentucky utilities have also announced plans to add over 1,000 MW of utility scale solar power capacity by 2029.
The move to renewable energy is being driven across America by concerns over climate change, environment, and economics. Although coal is still king in Kentucky, utilities are now moving to low-cost, renewable energy. King Coal is beginning to fade in the Bluegrass State.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy issues.