Kentucky legislature acted on several energy bills this year

The Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental advocacy group, on May 30 issued its report card on the just-completed 2014 Kentucky legislative session, saying that several energy measures got action – or inaction – this session.

The council said that:

  • Regulation of wind turbine siting was clarified in House Bill 291. The jurisdiction of the state siting board for merchant electricity facilities over wind farms was clarified, and two additional public meeting opportunities were created for wind projects.
  • The mission of the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center has been expanding in recent years to include energy efficiency, and the enabling statute was modified to reflect this addition in Senate Bill 153. 
  • Removal of electric power lines from reclaimed coal mine sites would be required in House Bill 336 unless approved as being needed for post-mining land use. 
  • A long-standing nuclear plant moratorium in this coal-dominated state remains in place with the defeat of Senate Bill 67, which would have lifted the moratorium on new nuclear plant construction that requires a permanent disposal strategy be in place before licensing, and allow new nuclear plant construction provided that a storage plan was in place. KRC noted that has long opposed lifting the ban. 
  • Among the bills opposed by KRC which did not become law were Senate Bill 35, which would have made membership in the state Public Service Commission, which governs electric utilities, an elected position and increased the number of commissioners to seven from the current three. KRC has opposed the bill due to the lack of evidence from other states that electing rather than appointing commissioners presents a better outcome for the average ratepayer. 
  • “Plans for controlling carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants will be hamstrung under House Bill 388, which seeks to micromanage the criteria by which the Energy and Environment Cabinet can establish performance standards for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units,” the KRC noted. “The bill is very premature, since the EPA standards have not yet even been proposed, and will not be finalized for a year or more. The most likely outcome of the bill will be development of a federal implementation plan for Kentucky if the Cabinet cannot develop an approvable plan due to interference from the mandates of this bill.”

The Obama Administration in January unveiled a revamped CO2 plan for new coal-fired power plants and on June 2 released a draft plan for existing power plants.

HB 388, signed by the governor on April 2, creates new sections of KRS Chapter 224 to establish criteria by which the Energy and Environment Cabinet can establish performance standards for the regulation of CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. It also: establishes different criteria for coal-fired generating units and natural gas-fired generating units; allows performance standards to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis; requires that any state plan to regulate CO2 emissions be issued under Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act; direct the cabinet to promulgate administrative regulations to establish standards in a state plan; prohibit development or proposing of a state plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unless the plan is consistent with Sections 1 to 7 of this Act and is prepared in consultation with the Kentucky PSC; declares that any plan or performance standard has no legal effect if the U.S. EPA does not issue federal rules or guidelines for regulating CO2 emissions from existing electric generating units or if the rules are withdrawn or invalidated by a court of competent jurisdiction.

KRC said that a number of important bills either received a hearing but no vote in the committee to which they were assigned, or were not heard, including a bill requiring renewable and energy efficiency portfolios for electric utilities, the “stream saver” bill, and many others.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.