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Two years ago, Gardner was struck by an encounter with a local man who worked remotely for Facebook. He told Gardner that big corporations were actually deciding where to expand based on where they could get renewable energy. "He made it seem like there was literally a list with a lot of states with big X's marked in," says Gardner, "so that Facebook and others were not looking because [some states] were not going to be open to renewables."
The Public Service Commission worried the state was missing out. It quietly issued an "a clear signal to people outside of the state," says Gardner that if a big customer wanted renewable energy, Kentucky's utilities could cut a special deal to provide it. That gave utilities permission to offer renewable energy. But they still face challenges to produce it. The state's cheap coal makes it harder for renewables to compete, and to see a return on investment. What's more, Kenya Stump, of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, says Kentucky has only , and not much at all for wind. She says hydro power holds the most promise. Stump is working with companies that want to develop renewable power, but she doesn't foresee a major spike anytime soon. "Right now renewables are starting to compete on costs, but not reliability," she says. But she adds that once battery technology develops and solar or wind power can be stored, "all bets are off." Kentucky's utilities are also highly regulated. An energy activist says he's been heartened by a shift in the state's attitude, but thinks officials could do a lot more to encourage renewables. "The sun in Kentucky is as strong as it is in North Carolina and Ohio and New York, where the solar industry is employing tens of thousands of people," says Andy McDonald of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society.
 "Kentucky is not limited by our resources; it's limited by our policies." None of those challenges is stopping a slow transition. "This tract is about 60 acres," says David Crews, standing in a freshly mowed field where East Kentucky Power Cooperative is about to install 32,000 solar panels. It will be one of the state's first utility-scale solar farms, and it's there by popular demand from businesses. Crews says some companies don't mind paying a bit more to meet their sustainability LED Canopy Light  goals. East Kentucky Power has no plans to build another coal plant. Crews says just because the new president doesn't want to limit carbon emissions, doesn't mean the next one won't. "The seesawing of regulations when we're trying to make a 50-year investment, it will drive you crazy," he says. "And that wouldn't be good for our customer base." The utility is marketing its new solar farm, and if demand is strong enough Crews says it will add more panels. At Toyota's plant in central Kentucky, Kevin Butt envisions installing solar panels on the roof. The company is also researching fuel cell technology, seeking the breakthrough that could help it eliminate carbon emissions.
 But for now, he's getting creative about finding renewable energy where he can. He drives me down a rutted dirt road, through towering brown hills. It's a landfill, and here and there, things stick up. "The black tube coming out," he says pointing, "it's a methane capture well." The methane is released as the trash rots. When it goes into the air, methane is a dirty greenhouse gas, but last year Toyota set up a generator here to turn it into . The power is sent through an underground line, straight to the Toyota plant 6 miles away, bypassing the local utility altogether. "They either have to put it in their system," Butt says, "or people will be looking at alternate ways to get that energy in a renewable form."
A previous version of this story incorrectly said 90 percent of Kentucky's energy comes from coal. It's actually 90 percent of the state's electricity.

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  Blog créé le 16-05-2017 à 08h36 | Mis à jour le 11-08-2017 à 03h24 | Note : Pas de note