Duke Energy plans to install solar panels in its Duke Energy Power Plant in Kentucky, and the company’s CEO has announced plans to hire 500 people to work at the plant, where he plans to build a solar array and install solar photovoltaic panels.
The solar panels, which are expected to generate enough energy to power the entire facility, will be used to power a second solar array at the company-owned coal-fired power plant.
Duke Energy also announced that it will purchase 25 megawatts of natural gas from the state, and that it has set up a “gas-powered development facility” at the Kentucky Power & Light Company (KPGL) plant.
The coal-burning KPGL facility is a major source of coal-related emissions, as it burns coal at its power plant and generates nearly a quarter of the state’s CO2 emissions.
The Duke Energy announcement follows another announcement that Duke Energy is “considering” purchasing the coal-generated natural gas needed to power its coal-heavy energy sector.
KPGl has been a major coal-producing region in Kentucky for decades, and its coal consumption is among the highest in the state.
According to Duke Energy, its coal fleet generates nearly 10 percent of the electricity used in Kentucky.
KPFL is a member of the Duke Energy coal-plant purchase.
The announcement comes just days after Duke Energy announced that they would be partnering with the Kentucky Coal Association, the coal industry’s trade group, to create an alliance to promote clean energy in the coal sector.
The alliance will include representatives from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Association of Realtors, the Kynect Coalition, and others, according to the Duke energy press release.
The group hopes to build on the coal alliance’s successes by creating a partnership with coal-dependent Kentucky and other states, and will work with other coal companies to push back against climate change and other environmental harms, according the Duke press release released on Monday.
“We are honored to partner with the coal lobby to promote an energy future that is green, safe, and economically viable,” said KPGll President and CEO Paul Coughlin.
“The Kentucky Coal Alliance’s commitment to renewable energy and the coal companies we work with to drive that transition will be a strong foundation for our efforts to grow Kentucky’s economy and the state.”
Duke Energy said that it would “provide training for staff at the KPGLP plant and provide up to 500 new jobs” to its employees, which will include “a variety of construction and maintenance jobs.”
Duke says that it plans to “work with local partners and private employers to support these new positions and to expand and modernize the KPFLP plant to meet growing demand for clean energy.”
The Duke announcement comes less than a week after Duke announced that its coal plant in East Texas will be retired in 2019.
Duke announced the retirement of the coal plant after it found that it was no longer profitable, citing the high costs of coal.
“Over the past decade, the Duke Coal Power Plant’s emissions have declined, resulting in the decision to retire the plant,” Duke said in a statement.
“As we enter the future, we are committed to transitioning to a cleaner energy future and investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grids.”
KPGln currently has two coal plants, which produce around 40 percent of its electricity, but Duke plans to expand that to three and to buy another coal plant.
KPBL has been the third largest coal-consuming state in the United States, and has an average annual CO2 emission rate of about 32,000 tons per year.
The Kentucky Coal Industry Alliance has been active in the fight against climate denial and coal, and their efforts include a lawsuit to prevent coal plants in Kentucky from being retrofitted with climate control systems, as well as an effort to pass a climate change bill that would require Duke Energy to retrofit all of its coal plants to use cleaner energy.
The state legislature passed a bill that included a climate-related mandate for Duke Energy.
The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin, would require all coal plants built in the next decade or so to be retrofitted to use 100 percent renewable energy.