By Andy McDonald

This past October more than 400 Kentuckians learned a powerful lesson: Solar energy works in Kentucky. The Kentucky Solar Tour featured more than three dozen homes and other sites that use solar energy to produce electricity, heat water or provide space heating/cooling. The Solar Tour crossed the state from Bowling Green to Berea, from Kenton County to Rockcastle County. Kentucky was one of 48 states on the solar tour that day, with 150,000 people nationwide participating. The message is simple: Solar energy has arrived. It works. It’s proven technology. It’s no longer the technology of the future; solar is the technology for today.

Wind energy presents another great opportunity for Kentucky. Conventional wisdom says Kentucky has poor wind resources. However, conventional wisdom is based on outdated wind resource maps that analyzed Kentucky’s wind resources at 50 meters above the ground. Modern wind turbines, the kinds we see in neighboring states like Indiana and Illinois, operate at 80 meters or more, where wind speeds are much higher. More recent studies measuring wind velocity at the height of modern wind turbines found enough wind to justify hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. Now, Indiana has an additional 500 megawatts of wind farms under construction.

Our in-state wind resources do not limit our ability to use wind power. With utility-scale wind farms in operation or development in every state bordering Kentucky, and with existing power lines crossing state borders, Kentucky has access to thousands of megawatts of wind potential in neighboring states. Meanwhile, we can research and develop appropriate sites within the state.

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