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Bluegrass State Getting Greener

February 25, 2010 - 2:21pm

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Kentucky’s per capita electricity consumption is among the highest in the United States, likely a result of cheap energy costs fueled by a reliance on coal — a nonrenewable energy source. To help reduce Kentucky’s energy appetite, the state set a goal of 25-percent energy reduction by 2025 and is using Recovery Act funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve the energy-efficiency of its buildings.

$14 million in State Energy Program funds are being put use by establishing the Green Bank financing program. The program works by loaning money for energy-efficiency improvements to state organizations. That way, the barriers put in place by high upfront costs are removed. State entities’ reduced energy usage will result in cost savings that will repay the loan. In fact, over the life of the Green Bank project, $2.15 million in taxpayer money will be saved.

“The Green Bank of Kentucky enables state agencies to make improvements to their buildings while retaining jobs, saving energy and reducing harmful emissions,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release.

The Kentucky Department of Education was the first agency to receive a loan in December — $1.3 million worth that will fund improvements at buildings such as the Future Farmers of America Leadership Training Center. The FFA received $30,488 for its Hardinsburg center, where retrofits include lighting improvements, water conservation measures and vending machine controllers. The controllers use infrared sensors to turn machines off during low-trafficked time periods without adversely affecting the products inside, saving about $150 per vending machine per year, according to USA Technologies.

The students and staff of FFA are constantly pushing energy efficiency, and these measures help further their goals.

“The training center has an established resource-conserving policy,” Tom Engstrom, director of the Division of Administrative Services for Kentucky’s Department of Education, says. “The efforts of these energy-saving projects will be leveraged to encourage increasing thoughtful use and stewardship of resources.”

The total annual energy savings for the FFA are projected at $2,368 annually. The retrofits are already mostly in place, with total completion expected in April. These improvements not only save energy, but they also help the environment, put Kentuckians to work and set an example of energy conservation for students and citizens.

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