Northern Kentucky at the forefront of switching to clean, renewable energy

By Russ Brown

Duke Energy is ramping up its solar game, as it opened a new facility in early 2018 in Walton.

Kentucky is shifting to clean, renewable energy sources, and Northern Kentucky is at the forefront of that movement, thanks to efforts by Duke Energy Kentucky and Owen Electric, the major electrical energy suppliers in the region.

Andrew Melnykovych, public information officer for the Kentucky Public Service Commission, says the numerous changes and updates taking place are noticeable for the commission, and “utilities are deploying more technology – or want to – so all of that has to be reviewed before we let them make those investments.”

Kentucky is below the national average for overall electrical rates, Melnykovych said, because the majority of its power is still generated by coal-fired plants that are economically efficient. As for natural gas, a PSC news release in November 2018 noted Kentucky residents who heat their homes with gas will see even lower prices this winter than they did a year ago.

Natural gas prices have fallen, on average, 13 percent from a year ago and are 64 percent below their level 10 years ago.

Duke Energy is expanding its natural gas infrastructure and recently built three solar power facilities in Kenton and Grant counties as part of its strategy to add more renewable power. The solar sites now generate enough power for 1,500 Northern Kentucky homes.

“Today, coal is still the primary fuel source in the region,” said Chuck Sessions, vice president of government affairs for Duke. “But I believe this will slowly change as customers want lower-carbon options. We’re investing in a cleaner generation like renewables and natural gas. We’re leading the industry toward a safe, secure and responsible energy future, and we’re proud to have the Northern Kentucky region be a central piece of that legacy.”

Duke is investing also to improve security, enhance reliability, reduce outages and provide customers with more information, Sessions said.

With 7.6 million customers in six states, Duke – headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. – is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It has 850,000 natural gas and electric customers in Ohio and Kentucky.

Duke Energy is also active in community environmental initiatives with its Urban Revitalization program, which in 2018 awarded $276,600 to 16 projects across Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati to aid in clean water, clean air and conversation. They included grants to Thomas More University in Crestview Hills for water quality research and East Row Garden Club in Newport for its tree revitalization program. Since its launch in 2011, the Urban Revitalization program has issued $2.2 million in grants to 65 projects.

Owen Electric, which was founded in 1937 and is now part of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, provides power to 61,000 homes and businesses in nine counties. It sources most of its power from landfill gas plants, and it has gotten involved in the solar energy market with East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC).

Bavarian Waste Services in Walton has worked with EKPC to create the state’s biggest landfill energy producer in terms of megawatts generated, enough to power 2,700 homes. Bavarian provides dumpster rentals, waste hauling and disposal services to the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area.

A fifth-generation family-owned and operated company, Bavarian joined forces with EKPC in 2003 to become the first landfill in Kentucky to convert its landfill gas into electricity.

Bavarian has recycling programs for customers involving wood, ferrous metal and asphalt shingles. According to Doug Bramer, business development manager for Bavarian, the company strategy is to remain aggressive repurposing waste.

“We remain dedicated and are currently seeking even more efficient options for the landfill gas to further reduce the emissions,” Bramer said.

The non-profit Northern Kentucky Water District provides water to 300,000 customers in Campbell and Kenton counties, along with portions of Boone, Grant and Pendleton counties.

Its 312-square-mile service area includes 1,296 miles of main. The utility operates three water treatment plants.

Utilities providers like Cincinnati Bell and Spectrum, are two of the 20-plus communications providers in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. The variety of services offers healthy competition and excellent service.

The region is a major node on the national ultra high-speed internet backbone and is ringed with fiber optics, the infrastructure that enables this region to be one of the world’s most wired communities.

Bavarian Waste

Walton – bavarianwaste.com

Duke Energy

Cincinnati

Rumpke Of Kentucky

Butler

Sanitation District No.1

Fort Wright

Owen Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Owenton

Best Way Disposal

Burlington

Northern Kentucky Water District

Erlanger

Stand Energy Corp.

Cincinnati

Smartwatt Energy Inc

West Chester, OH

Information provided by Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Please wait...

Subscribe to the FASTER LANE business newsletter.

Subscribe and receive breaking Kentucky business news and updates daily.