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Kentucky Releases Hour-Long Documentary About Electricity, Energy Transition

coal

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has released an hour-long documentary about the commonwealth’s changing energy landscape, and the challenges posed by diversifying the state’s energy portfolio and keeping electricity rates competitive as Kentucky utilities retire coal-fired power plants.

Called “Made in Kentucky,” the film looks at Kentucky’s manufacturing sector, thriving partly because of the state’s low electricity rates. But as the film notes, those rates are because of Kentucky’s reliance on cheap coal-fired power, and environmental regulations, market conditions and declining coal reserves mean that Kentucky is producing and burning less coal.

A 14-minute preview wasreleased online last year.

Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman Dick Brown said via email that the documentary’s purpose “is to explore how national market and regulatory forces are dramatically changing Kentucky’s energy landscape—and more importantly, how Kentucky can navigate these changes to remain economically competitive and protect our environment."

“We conclude with this line, which pretty well sums up the film. ‘The continuing challenge for the Commonwealth is that we must make wise decisions at all levels to address the critical issue of energy, because no matter how you interpret the history, the law, and the data, Kentucky needs a commonsense, viable energy strategy to ensure our continued prosperity, our environmental healthy, and our joint future.’”

The film includes interviews with representatives of Kentucky industries (Dave Adkisson of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Greg Higdon of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers), utility companies (Paul Thompson of LG&E and KU, Brenda Brickhouse of the Tennessee Valley Authority) and fossil fuel advocates (Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association and Andrew McNeill of the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association). Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, Justin Maxson of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (formerly of MACED) and Marilyn Brown of Georgia Institute of Technology discuss energy policy, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The film’s budget was $153,000, and the cabinet intends to market it largely through social media. Spokesman Dick Brown said the cabinet will also give key legislators a copy of the DVD, and portions may also be shown on KET.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.