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Advancing the state’s energy future

Kentucky’s electric cooperative experts invest in sustainability—with energy from landfills and green spaces for communities


Energy leaders at EnVision Forum

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives President Chris Perry was among more than 150 energy leaders from across the country who gathered at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in October to discuss America’s energy future.

“It is important that electric cooperatives and rural America are part of the national energy conversation,” Perry says, “Co-ops have both real-world experience and a keen interest in helping shape the next chapter of safe, reliable and affordable electricity.”

Hosted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research, the EnVision Forum was attended by U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette, who is nominated to be the next secretary.

EnVision Forum featured over 150 national energy experts, including Kentucky Electric Cooperative’s President and CEO, Chris Perry (second from left) and Big Rivers President and CEO, Bob Barry (next to last). Photo: Kevin Puckett

Discussion topics included the need for investment in energy infrastructure, the implications of climate concerns and how the epidemic of opioid use is threatening the future energy workforce.

“The modern energy landscape is rapidly evolving,” says FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, a Lexington native. “The energy economy is in a period of significant and rapid change.”

UK President Eli Capilouto praised the “bright minds, fearless leaders and innovative trailblazers” on the forefront of the energy discussion. 

“As the commonwealth’s flagship and land-grant institution, this is what it’s all about, convening experts, disseminating knowledge and seeking solutions. It reflects our innate desire to expand what is possible,” says Capilouto.

Landfill power in Morehead

The old saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is taking on new meaning at a landfill in eastern Kentucky.

In October, Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative joined North American Bio Fuels and Advanced Disposal Services to dedicate a new renewable energy plant fueled by methane from the Morehead Landfill.

“As a result of this project, Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative will provide clean, renewable energy to its members,” says Joni Hazelrigg, president and CEO of the co-op, which will purchase all energy generated by the plant. “We are excited to help make this possible for the communities we serve.”

The new Morehead Generating Station will produce enough energy from the landfill to serve over 600 homes. Photo by Tim Webb

The Morehead Generating Station can make 1.6 megawatts of energy, enough to power over 600 homes.

As organic waste breaks down in the landfill, flammable methane gas is produced. The gas is collected by a system of pipes within the landfill and piped to the plant, where it is used as fuel.

“This plant runs 80% to 90% of the time, which is very efficient for a renewable power plant. It has been fantastic working with both Fleming-Mason Energy and American Disposal Services,” says Brian Evans, chief operating officer of North American Bio Fuels.

North American Bio Fuels operates a similar facility at Blue Ridge Landfill in Irvine.

Operation Round-Up beautifies Elizabethtown

Thanks in part to Nolin RECC consumer-members who “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar each month, a Greenspace project at Freeman Lake is a reality.

An Operation Round-Up community impact grant funded the project to place stone pillars at two new bridges and to plant blooming crabapple trees in one of the most active trail entrances.

From left, Nolin RECC President and CEO, Greg Lee; Operation Round-Up Board Member, Chuck Crutcher and Greenspace Board Chair, Damon Barnes. Photo: Sarah Fellows

“Without a doubt, Nolin RECC members have contributed to the quality of life in our community and we are proud to have them as a partner of Greenspace,” says Elizabethtown Councilman Matt Deneen, a Greenspace board member. “The community impact of the Round-Up grant program is a leading example of what a cooperative can achieve when it is built upon a foundation of service not only to its members but to the community as a whole. The example Nolin RECC has set is the cornerstone of quality and credibility that will be needed to inspire other businesses and individuals to contribute additional trees to the area as the project expands.”

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