Special Subcommittee on Energy


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2006 Interim


<MeetMDY1> June 16, 2006


The<MeetNo2> 1st meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on<Day> Friday,<MeetMDY2> June 16, 2006, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tanya G. Pullin, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Robert Stivers II, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya G. Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Denise Harper Angel, Ernie Harris, Vernie McGaha, Katie Stine, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, James E. Bruce, Dwight D. Butler, Bob M. DeWeese, J. R. Gray, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Fred Nesler, Tom Riner, Brandon D. Smith, and Brent Yonts.


Guests:  Jason Moseley, Director, Division of Policy Development, Cabinet for Health and Family Services; John Benjamin, Energy Program Manager, Kentucky Association for Community Action; Kip Bowmar, Executive Director, Kentucky Association for Community Action; James C. Cobb, Director, Kentucky Geological Survey; Cam Metcalf, University of Louisville, Mahendra Sunkara, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Louisville; Researchers — Dr. Sue Nokes and Dr. Donald Colliver.


LRC Staff:  Taylor Moore; J. Clark Baird; and Kelly Blevins, Committee Assistant.


Jason Moseley, Director, Division of Policy Development, Department for Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, stated that the Department had completed and submitted the FFY 2007 Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) Assistance Block Grant.  He stated that the state’s plan is based on an estimated allocation of approximately $24 million dollars, which has been the amount received in the past.


Kip Bowmar, Executive Director, Kentucky Association for Community Action, stated that the additional $10 million appropriated by the General Assembly to help supplement the LIHEAP program for SFY 2005-2006, had enabled the program to assist an additional 20,000 households.


The SFY 2006 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Semi-Annual Block Grant Status Report was approved, without objection, by voice vote upon motion made by Rep. Eddie Ballard, and seconded by  Rep. Royce Adams.


Rep. Adams asked if any consideration had been given to raising the benefit level for households that use propane, fuel oil or kerosene.


Mr. Bowmar stated that if resources are available, the Program will continue to deliver 200 gallons of fuel for crisis applicants. 


James C. Cobb, Director, Kentucky Geological Survey, stated that the Commonwealth of Kentucky still has abundant coal reserves. He stated that since 1990, coal production had dropped from 175 million tons per year to 114 million tons. He stated that deep coal production would most likely continue to increase, while surface production would either level out or go down.  He stated that Eastern Kentucky Coal fields produce coal in  thinner seams and of higher quality, while the Western Kentucky Coal fields produce thicker and lower quality coal.


Mr. Cobb explained that some of the new technologies that will help Kentucky include: (1) fluidized bed combustion technology, that uses coal of any quality and converts it to power; (2) Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), that coverts coal to gas resulting in clean energy. He said that a company has already requested a permit to begin constructing an IGCC power plant in Kentucky using coal and residential waste; and (3) Kentucky’s coal bed methane could also play a significant role as a gas resource.  He said that Kentucky is working toward getting permits and statutes in place in order for coal producers to explore coal bed methane.


Sen. Stine asked if using ground-up tires was still a viable option for making coal burn hotter; and was it being done in Kentucky.


Mr. Cobb stated that some of the new plants planned for Kentucky could burn coal, coal refuse, municipal waste and tires. He stated that he would have to defer to his colleagues in the Engineering and Technology areas for any additional information.


Chairman Pullin asked Mr. Cobb for an up-date on the FutureGen project.


Mr. Cobb stated that if Kentucky is selected for the FutureGen demonstration site, the plant would be located on the Cash Creek site in Henderson County, Kentucky. He also stated that if Kentucky was chosen as a finalist, the state would have to spend $600,000 to $1 million dollars to conduct certain tests on the site. 


Chairman Pullin explained that the state would be responsible for 80 percent of the money, and The Industrial Alliance would put in approximately 20 percent, and manage the project. The 200 megawatt plant would be the center of clean coal technology research for the world because the Industrial Alliance is actually an international group.


Sen. Harris asked if Kentucky should go ahead and start sampling and testing now.


Mr. Cobb stated there was no requirement that sampling and testing be done before the final selections are made.


Mr. Cobb stated that there were areas in Western Kentucky with great potential for natural gas, but the costs to drill deep down would be expensive. He said that Kentucky has the potential to produce as least half of the total gas that Kentucky currently uses.


Rep. Bruce asked if the Muhlenberg County reserve, which has the largest natural gas reserve east of the Mississippi, had been sold and sealed off.


Mr. Cobb stated that was not true.


Chairman Pullin introduced Cam Metcalf with the University of Louisville to discuss the Kentucky Rural Energy Consortium (KREC).


Mr. Metcalf explained that KREC was created to unify a statewide consortium to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. He also stated that the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) has the overall responsibility for oversight, funding, and implementing the Kentucky Rural Energy Consortium. He said that KPPC conducted 28 audits during FY 2004-2005 in order to identify energy savings opportunities. Mr. Metcalf stated that KPPC had funded seven research projects which focused on developing resource responsible technologies and practices specific to the energy sector, namely:  Development of an Ethanol Pilot Scale Facility; Development of an Integrated Solar Heat Pipe System; Differentiating Microbial Pathway and Membrane Adaptation for Enhanced Performance in Extreme Environments; Novel Catalytic Approaches for Bio-Oil Upgrading; Production of Biomass Briquettes as an Alternative Fuel Source; and Weather Responsive Ventilation for Residential E2 and Indoor Air Quality


Researchers Dr. Sue Nokes and Dr. Donald Colliver briefly explained their projects.


Mahendra Sunkara, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Louisville, presented a slide presentation entitled, “Photocatalysts for Solar Energy Conversion”.  In summary, Dr. Sunkara stated that the University of Louisville team had developed several new materials and processes which will have an enormous impact on solar energy conversion technologies.


Rep. Gray asked if water under pressure had a tendency to force hydrogen to separate from the liquid.


Dr. Sunkara stated that the amount of pressure would have to be very high, as well as the temperature.


Rep. Gray stated that he was concerned about hydrogen collecting in unused waterlines. He asked at what pound per square inch would hydrogen begin to separate from liquid.


Dr. Cobb stated that methane gas could enter a house through waterlines from a domestic well.  He said that lots of houses have burned down due to explosions caused by methane gas coming through the lines, not hydrogen.


Chairman Pullin asked if there was any reason to believe that thin films of solar paint could be manufactured in Kentucky in the future.


Dr. Sunkara stated that once the research is completed, it could be manufactured in Kentucky, and Mr. Metcalf stated that there were approximately 20 paint formulators in Kentucky.


Rep. Brandon Smith asked if the paint could actually be manufactured now, or was everything still on paper.


Dr. Sunkara stated that it could be made, but there was still advancements being made to the product.


Rep. Smith asked if the paint was being formulated and tested at the University of Louisville, and if so, were the results satisfying.


Dr. Sunkara stated that the paint was being tested at the University of Louisville, and that the researchers were satisfied with the electrochromics, but not the nanowire solar cells.


Rep. Smith asked if there was a mechanism in place to help with marketing the product in Kentucky.


Dr. Sunkara stated that the University of Louisville was in the beginning stages of pursuing commercialization of the product.


Mr. Metcalf stated that commercialization was very important for the technology's diffusion. He stated that the KREC was in the process of talking to the National Rural Electric Cooperative association about using vegetable based soy oil in their transformers.


Rep. Riner asked where the United States stood in the competitive development of technology related to solar.


Dr. Sunkara stated that there was a good deal of research studies being conducted.  In five years, Kentucky would be in good shape.


Meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.