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The Coal Barons Go Green

August 23, 2007

I, along with countless other Lexington residents, was shocked to learn that Kentucky Utilities now offers a green energy option. Rather than relying completely on Kentucky’s infamous low dollar cost coal fired electricity,KU customers–i.e. all of us in Lexington–may register for a $5 per month increase and ensure that the company imports at least 300kwh of renewable energy onto its regional grid for each block of green energy purchased. Or, as the KU website puts it, “For as little as $5 each month, KU and LG&E now offer you the opportunity to offset the carbon impact of your electricity.” Those interested can register online.

The green energy option is a start; I’ll grant that. However, the system smacks of the faulty logic that undergirds the “pollution credits” idea that some worried souls, thus far unable to repudiate the capitalist creed, have proposed. I think a deep-seeded problem here is that environmental sensibility has become an issue of transferring guilt, rather than actually making lifestyle changes. We want to have our cake and eat it too, to use a well-digested metaphor.

KU offers a handy calculator so one can measure precisely the good of purchasing “blocks of green energy.” If I buy two of them per month, it costs me $10, or roughly the equivalent ofnot driving 0.87 cars per year. I think I drive about 0.4537 cars per year.

I’m somewhat skeptical of the logic behind KU’s program, but I also think that some green energy is better than no green energy. If only there were a way to ensure that not a single kilowatt hour of juice that I purchase comes from coal. Instead, I can buy an indulgence or two from KU and convince myself that I’m not (as much) a part of the problem. I’ve ridded myself of guilt, and in reality I’ve probably done some good for the environment. But is it enough?

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One Comment
  1. Ian permalink

    I know the same has been done in the North County since the wind farm on Tug Hill was finished, but does the policy decrease pollution or just force other homes to use more coal?

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