Powering the future: U.S. Energy Secretary visits Lexington, Winchester

US Energy Secretary in Lexington
Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 19:20:30-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — One night after referencing clean energy and lower costs in his State of the Union address, President Biden's Energy Secretary joined Governor Andy Beshear in Lexington to further that discussion.

“We should be moving in a direction away from volatility of fossil fuels from countries that do not have our interest at heart,” Secretary Jennifer Granholm said when asked about the impact of oil prices given the situation with Russia in Ukraine.

Granholm, the former Michigan governor, joined Gov. Andy Beshear for a tour of Schneider Electric in Lexington. Schneider has been on the cutting edge of energy delivery methods that are more efficient and cleaner. Madame Secretary continued her visit in Winchester at the Eastern Kentucky Cooperative solar farm, which has been met with scrutiny from community members who worry about how the solar panels might impact their land.

US Energy Secretary visits Kentucky

“Sometimes placement of solar panels can be challenging and divisive depending on where it is,” Gov. Beshear acknowledged of the situation in Clark County, where a court-ordered moratorium was placed on the expansion of the solar farm last summer.

The governor has been expanding Kentucky’s image as a destination for large corporations which will operate in the green energy sector. The Ford Motor Company’s new electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant comes to mind. Gov. Beshear knows all of our new, or expanding businesses want to know that the state can meet certain energy demands.

“(They) are expecting cleaner energy and are looking at their carbon footprint,” Beshear added.

Leaders from the clean energy sector took part in today’s discussion, including Peter Hille, the president of the Mountain Association, which is working to help coal miners transition away from that line of work.

US Energy Secretary touring with Gov. Beshear

“We work with people trying to find a new way into the workforce,” Hille said. “What we’re trying to do, though is build a new economy for a post-coal Appalachia,” he continued.

Secretary Granholm said that type of training and assistance might be our best way forward.

“We want to say thank you (to the coal miners) for powering our nation and bringing us here, and we want you to power our nation for the next 100 years,” she stated.

President Biden has said as much. Promising good-paying jobs in that sector where former coal miners could lend their expertise towards moving us forward with clean energy sources.

Secretary Granholm also touted the surge in electric vehicles by indicating that the cost to charge a car is roughly 10 dollars, rather than the 50 dollars you might spend filling a gas tank for a trip that’s comparable in miles.

But as has been the case, any mention of a “green” planet or reusable energy can ruffle feathers for some in Washington.

“People see movement towards something and away from something and they see it as a zero-sum. What we’ve been saying is, we need to grow the energy pie,” Madame Secretary explained of the political discord over the topic of clean energy.