By: Patrick Flannery
Representative, State of Kentucky
Kentucky is home to a plentiful array of diverse natural resources that rival any other state in the country. Kentucky boasts 1,100 commercially navigable miles of rivers, which is second only to Alaska. With 12.7 million acres of commercial forest land and being amongst the five largest coal producers, our land and rivers are vital to our economy. With all Kentucky has to offer, from our waterways, forests, coal, mountains, farmlands, game, fish, and much more, we must be careful to ensure our resources are used and cared for appropriately. With this week’s legislative update, I want to share with you all the legislation we passed earlier this year to protect our natural resources and allow Kentucky energy to thrive.
Modernizing water waste disposal protocols, Rep. Chris Freeland – HB 160 creates a collaborative agreement between industry stakeholders and the Kentucky Energy Cabinet. HB 160 also addresses the planning process for building the water waste disposal system used in waste water treatment facilities.
Extending the waste management fund, Rep. Jim Gooch – HB 222 extends the state’s Hazardous Waste Management Fund until June of 2032. This fund is vital in waste disposal mitigation.
Ensuring public pensions remain stable, Rep. Scott Sharp – HB 236 mandates that state retirement systems move away from environmental, social and governance (ESG) driven investing to restore the emphasis on financial returns.
Eliminating outdated RFG requirements, Rep. Jared Bauman – HJR 37 directs the Energy and Environment Cabinet to adopt revisions to the state air quality implementation plan to remove the reformulated gas requirement for Jefferson County and applicable parts of Oldham and Bullitt counties.
Keeping fossil fuel-fired electric plants on the grid, Sen. Robby Mills – SB 4 prohibits the Public Service Commission from approving a utility’s request to retire a coal-fired electric plant unless the utility can demonstrate that the retirement will not negatively impact the reliability or resilience of the electric grid, or the affordability of customer rates.
Decreasing consumer electric rates, Sen. Phillip Wheeler – SB 192 allows investor-owned electric facilities to use securitization to recover costs associated with the retirement of a power plant or other significant assets as well as the costs incurred in severe weather events rather than seeking rate increases. Securitization allows a utility to refinance financial obligations in order to lower the costs to ratepayers by converting the short-term debt to longer-term secured debt.
Streamlining water pollution permitting process, Sen. Johnnie Turner – SB 226 eases the process for pollution discharge permits issued to companies engaged in surface mining. Despite the Governor from vetoing this piece of legislation, we overrode his veto and SB 226 is now law.
Repairing Kentucky’s dams, Sen. Johnnie Turner – SB 277 revises regulations and updates the framework for floodplain management in an effort to guide the upgrade of Kentucky’s inadequate and sometimes failing dams. The measure also requires dam owners to develop and maintain emergency action plans.
I also want to update you on what we are doing in the interim in regards to these issues. In the first meeting of the interim for the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, committee members heard testimony from representatives from a utility company its efforts to lower utility rates. Among those efforts is the use of securitization, a financing process approved during the 2023 Regular Session that allows companies to borrow based on assets rather than using rate increases. Clearly safe and reliable energy resources are a major priority, particularly as questions arise about the future of the grid and the federal government puts more and more pressure on states to invest in alternative energy sources.
I would like to hear from you regarding your interest in any of the issues before the Kentucky General Assembly relating to natural resources and energy or otherwise. Feel free to reach out any time through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181 or by email at Patrick.Flannery@lrc.ky.gov. Send me an email if you would like to receive regular email updates, send me an email. For more information, please visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.