Month: May 2017

Ground Breaking For 60-Acre Solar Farm In Clark County, KY

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives broke ground Tuesday on Cooperative Solar Farm One, a 60-acre solar farm located in Clark County, Ky.

When completed in November, the not-for-profit solar farm will feature 32,300 solar panels, each of which will be available for licensing by members of the 16 participating electric cooperatives.

“Cooperative Solar is a great way to get all the benefits of solar panels for your home or business without the hassles of installing and maintaining the panels yourself,” said Joe Spalding, a member and director of Inter-County Energy Cooperative. Spalding also is the chairman of the board of directors for East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which will own and operate the solar farm on behalf of its 16 owner-member cooperatives.

For a one-time payment of $460 per panel, participating members will receive a 25-year license for a panel. That means they will get credit on their monthly power bill for the value of the energy generated by their share of the solar farm. And they can monitor panel performance online.

Construction of the solar farm is scheduled to be completed by November.

To learn more and to sign up to participate, visit

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives comprise 16 not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives that serve more than 1 million Kentucky residents across 87 Kentucky counties. They include:

• Big Sandy RECC, Paintsville, Ky.
• Blue Grass Energy, Nicholasville, Ky.
• Clark Energy Cooperative, Winchester, Ky.
• Cumberland Valley Electric, Gray, Ky.
• Farmers RECC, Glasgow, Ky.
• Fleming-Mason Energy, Flemingsburg, Ky.
• Grayson RECC, Grayson, Ky.
• Inter-County Energy Cooperative, Danville, Ky.
• Jackson Energy Cooperative, McKee, Ky.
• Licking Valley RECC, West Liberty, Ky.
• Nolin RECC, Elizabethtown, Ky.
• Owen Electric Cooperative, Owenton, Ky.
• Salt River Electric, Bardstown, Ky.
• Shelby Energy Cooperative, Shelbyville, Ky.
• South Kentucky RECC, Somerset Ky.
• Taylor County RECC, Campbellsville, Ky.

Trump Chooses Kentucky Native For Key Energy Post

Kentucky native Neil Chatterjee has been chosen by President Donald Trump to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The longtime aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a background with electric cooperatives, having previously worked for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“Over the years he has played an integral role in the passage of major energy, highway, and farm legislation,” reads a White House statement announcing Chatterjee’s nomination.

At a reception in his honor last month in Washington, D.C. in April, Chatterjee told leaders from Kentucky’s electric cooperatives that he sees FERC as a largely non-partisan agency committed to securing America’s energy future.

As senior energy adviser to McConnell, Chatterjee helped craft energy and environmental policy in the Senate, and has been regarded as an instrumental player in the opposition to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets new and aggressive limits on carbon emissions, and fundamentally changes how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed in the United States.

“Our program is delighted President Trump has chosen Neil Chatterjee to fill a vacancy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” said Chris Perry, president of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Neil is an extremely qualified individual with a wealth of knowledge.  We appreciate his support of electric cooperatives and our members.”

“We are thrilled to have yet another Kentuckian making sound policy decisions for our members,” Perry added. “We wish him the best of luck in the nomination and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Trump also nominated Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, for another vacancy on the commission. Both Republican candidates face confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I appreciate the president taking the vital first step to fill these vacancies,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “I urge the Senate to move swiftly to consider these nominees once they are sent from the White House.  There is no reason to delay consideration. In fact, the longer the delay, the more daunting the backlog that will face the new commissioners.”

”FERC has been left with only two sitting commissioners for the past three months,” Matheson explained. “President Trump’s efforts to restore FERC’s quorum of commissioners would enable the agency to move forward on issues important to co-ops such as access to a diverse power supply, the certification of natural gas pipelines and ensuring the organized markets are meeting the needs of co-op consumer-members.”

“Neil has always been a great friend both personally and to our program,” said Chase Crigler, KAEC’s Community and Government Affairs Director. I could think of few better people to fill this vacancy. Neil’s knowledge of Washington, Kentucky and the regulatory process will make him invaluable in his new role. With Neil’s appointment to FERC, he is added to a growing list of Kentuckians who are bringing a little more of Kentucky to Washington, which in my view is sorely needed.”

Prior to serving Leader McConnell, Chatterjee worked as a Principal in Government Relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and as an aide to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio. He began his career in Washington, DC, with the House Committee on Ways and Means. A Lexington, Kentucky native, he is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Legislative Update May 1, 2017

Encouraged to ride the strength of rural America’s voting clout, leaders from Kentucky’s electrical cooperatives descended on Capitol Hill in late April, making sure that Congress is aware of issues which affect the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

“Our congressional delegation knows our concerns and is generally very responsive to them,” said Chris Perry, president of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “It’s our responsibility to keep them informed of how policy has a direct impact on our members at the end of the line.”

Perry led the Kentucky contingent who met with every member of Kentucky’s congressional delegation or their staff members.

“It speaks to the importance of electric cooperatives that our elected leaders took the time to meet with us in the middle of a very busy and consequential week in Washington,” said Mike Williams, president and CEO of Bluegrass Energy. Williams also serves on the NRECA Board of Directors.

Even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was dealing with high level talks on the nation’s budget and tensions with North Korea, Kentucky’s senior senator made a special trip to a Capitol Visitor’s Center meeting room to address Kentucky’s electric cooperatives.

McConnell’s energy advisor, Neil Chatterjee, briefed co-op leaders on emerging energy policy. Chatterjee is said to be under consideration for a nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Kentucky co-op leaders asked for congressional support of several issues, including:

  • Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program which provides affordable capital to electric cooperatives for infrastructure development
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology tax credits. Make them permanent and  increase their value. Provide incentives needed for industry to invest in CCS.
  • Parity for energy efficiency. Extend tax credits now enjoyed by wind and solar energy to highly-efficient geothermal heat pumps.
  • Stop “disaster deductible” idea being considered by FEMA. FEMA grants are critical to co-ops. Self-funded recovery would involve borrowing and lead to rate increases for members in poor, rural areas.
  • NRECA International programs.

“We’re not in a defensive posture. We have a chance to pursue things that are good for us,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “I ask you to redouble your efforts to make a difference in the quality of life for your members.”

Matheson addressed a standing room only crowd of more than 2,100 co-op managers, directors and staffers—the biggest turnout in years— at the NRECA’s 44th annual Legislative Conference.

“In a time of uncertainty, it’s all the more important for us to remain at the table, be active participants in the policy environment and assert ourselves as the voice of American consumers,” he said.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told co-op leaders that President Trump is committed to an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

“We want energy that is made in America, that is good for America and good for American jobs,” Perry said.

Kentucky leaders also made a national splash when the Environmental Protection Agency posted photos on social media of a meeting between newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and co-op leaders from Kentucky.