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Appalachian Regional Commission Conference Continues In Pikeville

By: WYMT Team Coverage
By: WYMT Team Coverage
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The A.R.C. and Governor Ernie Fletcher unveiled Appalachia's energy blueprint Thursday. This blueprint for the 13 A.R.C. states was created to encourage the use of our natural resources like coal and to promote energy related jobs. Several other announcements were made Thursday as well.

It's a blueprint to energize Appalachia and to cure what Governor Fletcher called the "sickly economy" of the region. The blueprint was developed by an energy advisory council representing the 13 A.R.C. states. The council came up with three main goals.

"Making sure we're using energy very efficiently. It talks about renewable sources whether it's wind or solar. It also talks about new technology," Governor Fletcher said.

To make this blueprint a living, working document, A.R.C. Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope says there are five keys.

"We need to encourage public sector investments. We need to encourage research and analysis energy resources, workforce development, public awareness, and outreach and the fifth is in support of policies both on local levels and state and federal levels," Pope said.

Governor Fletcher says 75 percent of energy needs have been reduced by energy efficiency alone, but the president of Kentucky Power questions whether residents will be able to change bad habits to save energy.

"Are people in East Kentucky and Appalachia willing to change their lifestyle a little bit to take advantage of reduced costs for off peak time usage of electricity or are they interested in efficiencies such as weatherizing their homes and buying new energy-efficient appliances," Kentucky Power President Tim Mosher said.

To encourage private and public investments, there will also be a 400 thousand dollar challenge grant competition for projects in developing renewable energy resources and efficiency.

The final announcement is for an A.R.C. Clean Coal Conference to be held in 2007 in hopes of discussing technology and the future of energy production in the region.

It was a busy morning for Governor Fletcher at the conference. He also signed two executive orders to immediately impact energy efficiency.

Pike County Schools Assistant Superintendent Roger Johnson usually doesn't turn on his overhead lights because he wants to save energy and money.

"Just look at the energy consumption when you have schools that have electric bills every three months of 47 to 50 thousand dollars, that's a lot of money in energy alone," Johnson said.

He says they spend a million dollars a year on electricity for the schools, and they're not alone. Governor Fletcher says it costs 120 million dollars a year statewide. In an executive order, he gives schools officials ways to be more energy efficient.

"People taxes can only go up so high. It's a limit on how much funds you're going to take in to pay for things so you're gonna have to reduce costs," Johnson says.

Johnson says they've already started saving energy.

Governor Fletcher also wants school officials to look towards the future. The order says any new school buildings must be designed and constructed to meet energy star guidelines. The governor says they're cheaper to operate and more sustainable.

"We're installing a controller here at the office to help save energy and we'll be installing one at one of our high schools, Pike County Central High School," Johnson said.

Johnson says he's always looking for ways to save energy and he's glad other school districts now must do the same.

Department of Education Spokesperson Lisa Gross tells us she supports the governor's energy efficiency order and says many new school buildings in the state are already being built with the new guidelines.

Governor Fletcher also signed an executive order directing his Finance and Administration Cabinet to replace older state vehicles with more fuel-efficient ones.
Fletcher's administration runs a fleet of some 55-hundred state
vehicles that use five million gallons of gas each year.
Fletcher says if the state buys vehicles that achieve an average 10 percent improvement in fuel economy, Kentucky would save about 2
million gallons of gasoline by 20-14.
The fleet consumed more than $9 million in gas in
two-thousand-five.

A.R.C. speakers also say there's more ways than coal for Appalachian states to promote economic growth.

Speakers say agriculture can also be used to create new products and industry such as timber and growing organic foods. Officials say communities can search for uses of their land to create businesses.

"They have a lot of natural resources in the community, that with a lot of care and planning and partnerships, they can conserve for the future," said Kelly Novak, National Research Manager.

Speakers also shared ideas on how to redevelop areas that were once mines.


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