One of the unexpected challenges in the utility sector in 2022 was the increased cost of the natural gas commodity to near historic levels due to reduced supply, a slow refill of storage and increased global demand. Good news for 2023: Market forecasts are projecting that production levels will increase to more closely match market demand, which should bring gas costs back in line longer-term. Columbia Gas customers have already seen a turn in that direction with our latest quarterly gas cost adjustment. Meanwhile, we remain steadfast in our commitment to invest in energy technologies that ensure a more steady, sustainable and affordable energy supply through initiatives that reduce methane production, drive energy efficiency and bring more renewable natural gas and hydrogen into our system.
“Our American and Kentucky economies will prove more resilient than the global economy in 2023. Whether our domestic economy will avoid a hard recession remains an open question, I’m convinced we’ll withstand the gathering storm and be positioned for dramatic expansion as global headwinds subside.
“The green energy sector is driving the most dynamic economic transformation since the advent of the internet. This market-driven transition is irreversible and irresistible. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is supercharging the already scorching growth of the sector, creating historic levels of new capital investment. Edelen Renewables will soon announce a $1 billion capital commitment from a global concern to finance the development of our utility scale and community solar pipelines. As a result, in ’23 we’ll dramatically expand both our current 11-state footprint and our Lexington-based leadership team.”
“For LG&E and KU, 2023 will be a year of continued focus on putting customers first and providing the safe, reliable, low-cost energy we know they’re depending on. We hope to see more steadiness in market prices for wholesale natural gas, which have increased dramatically over the last two years. We will continue our ongoing efforts to secure the lowest-cost fuel possible year-round and ensure our most vulnerable customers have the assistance they need. We, along with our parent company PPL, remain committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and as our coal-fired generation units reach their end of life, we will work to diversify our generation portfolio. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the communities we serve and are making investments to further increase reliability through system enhancements, empowering customers with more information and resources to manage their energy use, and investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”
“In 2023, partnerships, innovation and quality will drive Louisville Water’s work. In partnership with regional water providers, we’re investing millions to build infrastructure along the I-65 corridor to provide additional water for Ford’s Blue Oval investment and new bourbon distilleries. In Louisville Metro, we will launch projects to replace some of the older infrastructure in our system. We’re embracing technology to improve the customer experience with meter upgrades and digital tools. And, with two of the top 19 water treatment plants in North America for water quality that excels, we continue our commitment to research and advancing the science of drinking water. We are proud to deliver drinking water to nearly 1 million people in Kentucky.
“As 2023 dawns, I would rate the economy 8 out of 10. The Kentucky and national economies continue to demonstrate strength, despite challenges posed by heightened inflation, supply chain disruptions and workforce shortages.
“Kentucky’s manufacturing sector has been robust, with a boost from post-pandemic onshoring. The economic development team for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is working to capitalize on opportunities this presents for rural communities. EKPC is managing grid inventory to ensure equipment and components are available to support new and expanding businesses.
In the long-term, Kentucky must continue to protect the reliability of its power grid as the U.S. transitions to greater dependence on intermittent resources.”