Energy Efficiency & Climate Change

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Rachel Norton, Action Team Lead

Meetings second Monday of each month, 6:00-7:00 pm

Saw our article in BGGS’s August newsletter? See who is working on the climate crisis in Kentucky by clicking below!

Notes from previous meetings:


James Bush Update: 

  • City has an internal revolving loan fund that was started in 2009
  • There is an energy team for the city of 6-12 people that meet regularly 
  • “Assets” are owned by different departments, but environmental services don’t technically have those; most of the environmental benefits James encourages through his position requires him to build a lot of relationships and build trust 
  • $19 million annal with gas, water & electric 
  • $10.5 million are street lights and fire hydrants 
  • Less than 3%
  • Our current targets really just incorporate energy & dollar savings (not emissions, etc. which is starting to be limiting) 
  • Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) have extended ground rules for their energy programs at 20 (25?) and we are stuck at 10 years still 
  • Needs support
    • Getting outside of strictly dollars 
    • Extending the life of investment in improvements 
    • He needs hard targets to address, e.g. emission reductions goals
  • How can other plans help inform goals? 
  • Renewable by 2050 is doable for us! Just doing it for electricity is probably the most realistic (compressed natural gas in our waste trucks might prove an issue – we would need to know more info from Fleet) 
  • James doesn’t mind providing an overview of our current usage 
  • Open software from FEMP (cost of money 2%-3%)
  • 3 people now: data analyst, energy manager – project work, energy manager – administration 
  • James is hitting a point in time where they are running out of projects that meet the current criteria. He has done as much as he can with lighting; to move further in energy savings he would need to do larger, longer term projects that have a longer pay back period.  He is required to show payback in 10 years  
  • He needs new criteria other than just payback time; hard, realistic targets
  • He indicated that it would be good to have a wholistic Sustainability Manager that could oversee the big picture, e.g. take into account transportation emissions and energy efficiency and various areas.
  • He discussed solar projects; he has identified more rooftops he could build on, but now lacks money.  (Apparently he is restricting the size of installations to ensure that no energy is fed to the grid; I did not follow this exactly).  He said he can produce power cheaper than he can invest in efficiency.  
  • There were a lot of Federal programs, money (10 +years ago), but that has dried up and “everyone is rusty”.  It sounds like the push for energy action needs reviving.  
  • Liz Sheehan said she is very supportive, but she is not an expert.  So needs education and guidance on issues.
  • Liz Sheehan said it is very important that we let council members know what we want.  When they ask for money, they need the public behind them. 
  •  Conclusion: We need to keep this conversation going as a community 

More updates on fundraising next week! You have a whole extra month to make one ask of someone you know for a donation for the group. The amounts have been updated below as of 2/9/21

Summary of Home Energy Efficiency Kit Options 

Current Amount raised: $690

Total amount Sierra club is willing to match (goal): $1250 

Option 1: Fundraise full amount for kits that include solar panels (maybe a grant?)

*in this scenario we can still distribute any leftover KFTC kits

Option 2: Accept current amount we have with Sierra club match and make our kits with the solar panels

*in this scenario we can still distribute any leftover KFTC kits

Option 3: Make our kits the same as KFTC & distribute them together with no additional fundraising

Cost: 2500$ 

# our kits: ~55 (45$/kit)

# KFTC kits: unknown

Cost: 1380$

# our kits: ~30 (45$/kit)

# KFTC kits: unknown

Cost: 1380$ 

# our kits: ~39 (35$/kit)

# KFTC kits: unknown


Also include: 

  • Current rate case information/flyer 
  • KFTC information/flyer for their donated kits (or all) 
  • Environmental commission education information 

$45 Kit Option List: 

$35 Kit Option List:


  • It’s Trump’s last day in office!!!
  • Kits 
  • Cathy joined the environmental commissions meeting today and James Bush was asking for high level policies in Lexington. There may be a very real opportunity to support him in this as a citizen-lead group. Barbara will reach out to him to see what support we can offer him. 
  • LG&E Shareholder Advocacy Group: An initiative has begun to create a Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) progressive shareholders group. The purpose of this group would be to attempt to influence the policies and behavior of LG&E toward being sensitive to the need to adapt to climate change and the need for more social equity. Participants would need to own a few shares of LG&E stock. If interested, contact Wallace at 
  • Louisville is hiring in their sustainability department 
  • Solarize Louisville Campaign is possible! 
  • 1/21: Nikita will know KFTC kit donation count in 1-2 months 
  • Additional kit info from Nikita: 

Thank you so much for reaching out! Absolutely. First of all, here’s a photo of what’s in the kits (might be helpful if you want to match brands): And here’s a list:

  • 4 LED light bulbs
  • 1 caulk gun
  • 1 tube of acrylic adhesive silicone sealant
  • 1 roll of closed-cell foam weather-strip
  • 1 low-flow showerhead
  • 1 faucet aerator

We currently have about 150 kits, and our current idea was to put out a call to our local organizers to see if they would want to distribute some at the chapter level as a local mutual aid/community engagement strategy. We’re then hoping whatever is leftover can go to BGGS, but we might need a month or two to know exactly how much is left. Does that timeline work for you?


City Partnerships for Considering Equity in Clean Energy Policy and Implementation


  • Louisville Sustainability Summit Thursday 12-4pm
  • SolarAction Alert:
  • Sustainability Task Force attended by Cathy & Tresine with Greg Butler (waste action team leader) 
    • Seperate from Imagine Lexington Comprehensive Plan 
    • Very focus on the Lexington-Fayette urban boundary 
    • They have a consultant that’s developing a set of criteria that trigger boundary opening (also a feasibility study)
    • This doesn’t really overlap with us, but we’ll keep an eye it
  • New Vista will be taking over for Giulia at the end of April for BGGS
  • BGGS Sustainability Summit (March) is being worked on now, BGGS would like input about speakers & anything we’d like to share from our group experience 
    • Can the city be there? (Greg Butler thinks we’ll have more sustainably-friendly city council members now; the vice mayors assistant is very interested in sustainability) 
    • We might present results
      • Kits
      • Maybe designate a champion on city council/local government 
  • Jim is working towards electric cars and also on geologic carbon sequestration 
    • RFP’s will come out about funding for EV’s
    • Lextran may have a new director
    • Gas tax conversation 
  • Solarize Louisville Campaign? (Rocky Mountain Institute cohort) 
    • Ky solar stories! (see below) 
  • Ky Interfaith Power & Light 
    • They have a vista focused on energy efficiency – maybe we should reach out?  


  • Kentucky Colonels have a pretty vague grant that people can apply for
  • We’re going to make sure Chris Porter has seen the grant watch email come through 
  • We haven’t heard back yet from councilmembers
  • Ask Chris about our final items for our kit & send it to council people (send to Mason)
  • Meeting with Richard Young feedback: “By the time there’s a council meeting, you’re too late.”; Cathy has a lot of notes & feedback to share later; Think about council at large as well as mayor and vice mayor
    • Go to the planning committee meetings; see Civic Lex website for meetings 
  • Danville is likely going to issue an ordinance for EPAD; downsides are that it has a high cost for contractors; the benefits are that you can drive the administrative fee down
  • Solar stories: 
  • Environmental Commission is working on public education with reliable sources; Paul sent a draft
  • Governors Conference:’s-Conference.aspx 
  • Submit comments on the KPC rate case; this case has implications for all the other cases that are going to happen 
    • Submit comments to and cite case number 2020-00174.
  • Find solar stories here also: 
  • Thursday lunch hour celebration of sustainability award winners:
  • Competition & “cost of doing nothing” are ways to potentially motivate people 
  • Community Action Council hosting weatherization events? 
  • Here’s Mayor Fischer’s Proclamation for EE Day in Louisville:
  • And here’s the video:


General Announcements: 

  • Judy’s group is hosting a meeting next week 9/26 w Richard
  • Check out the newsletter that Giulia sent out!
  • Mason got appointed to the State Advisory Committee to the Land and Water Conservation Fund – Congratulations! 
  • List of neighborhood associations lexington:
  • Energy Efficiency Day is Oct. 7th! <3
  • Reminder to GO VOTE!

Grant update:

  • We didn’t end up getting our last grant, but Chris Porter is already working on another
  • Lane has offered to take a look at the application to see if she might know of other options for us

City Council Next Steps:

    • Rachell will call 311 and ask about the neighborhood grant & find out what the process is
    • Rachell will call her city council person (James Brown) about a neighborhood grant  
  • Mason spoke with Chuck Ellinger and he seemed interested; Mason will follow-up with him

Job openings in our network: 

Longer Topics: 

  • We spoke a lot about EPAD
    • Julie is doing strategic work in Louisville to get more projects funded this way (as well as a 100% renewable initiative) 
    • John is interested in getting more EPAD done in KY; Rachel & John looked at the Danville Country Club
    • Henry noted EPAD is very administratively cumbersome, which makes it inaccessible to lots of people… seems fishy
  • Lane brought up the opportunity to work with rental units on energy efficiency 
    • Big opportunity here
    • Unknown barriers: why aren’t landlords interested? 
    • We hope to talk more about this on our next call
  • John brought up interest in a carbon tax, we may be interested in discussing other mechanisms around financial incentives

8/10/20 Notes

  • General Updates:
    • Rachel’s Update: No word from city council or city planning, we’re going to try reaching out in other ways.
    • Cathy’s Update: Richard Young is coming to Judy’s team meeting 9/26; we would be invited; she didn’t have luck reaching out to Farmer
    • Mason will try to email Chuck Ellinger 
    • Rachel will call Lex Call: 311 call the aide (ask when they’ll be back in session
    • Henry’s Update: He has been exploring what cities have excellent climate change practices. He found many of them have nothing on their homepage. (Cathy recommended talking to the Climate Advocacy Lab). He’s signed up for climate reality training, but he is now. You can sign up now (for FREE!). It’s free the last week of August. 
    • Paul’s Update: The environmental commission is not going to have their usual awards this year, they are just going to push it back a year. They will be highlighting past winners to help motivate folks. They’re still taking nominations, they just won’t be given out for a while. Tomorrow night at Green Drinks they’ll be discussing the movie The Story of Plastic. 
    • Update from Julie: There’s an upcoming virtual event hosted by the Louisville Sustainability Council 8/22 11-12:30 focused on solar energy, KY state laws & how to get involved with PSC rate cases.
      • LG&E & KU filed for a power purchase agreement with Toyota & Dow, but the PSC said they could not claim savings but only claim direct energy benefits. This made the deal fail, and it looks like both companies will pull out completely. (It’s hard to find information on this right now).
    • MA, KFTC, Sierra Club & KYSES all have intervener status (Henry will send extra thoughts on that) 
    • Henry: There’s a state climate action plan that he knew about in 2011, does anyone know what happened to that? Julie let us know it’s not being actively implemented right now, but it still exists. 
    • Giulia will send us the link once it’s published, we should see it early next week. (:
      • John has volunteered to help with spreadsheets

Energy Efficiency Kit Next Steps 

7/24/20 Notes

  • Check-ins: 
    • Mason Chamblee: Greenspace Commission for City of Lexington (new), Rachel Norton, Cathy Clement, Giulia Parli, Henry Jackson, Colleen Kaelin, Luke Morgan, Paul Swoveland & Chris Porter
  • Spreadsheet & Notice for newsletter
    • Giulia is moving this effort forwards
  • Fundraising for Kits
    • Chris Porter gave a background on BGGS’s experience with the kits
    • We should hear back about in late August or early September
    • Chris is happy to apply for grants that we might support this work – does anyone know of something?
    • Other sources of funding might be (from Chris): Loves; Home Depot; council members sometimes have “extra”/discretionary funds that can be distributed.
  • Further Organizing 
    • Working with a council person on this project
      • Neighborhood associations might have grants that a council person would be aware of
      • Mason worked with Chuck & he can help apply for that ($10,000) 
      • Jennifer Reynolds?
      • Call the planning department and ask for average income of the districts to target low-income districts (long range planning manager; or contact fayette alliance)
        • Who is maintaining the list of neighborhood associations? Could we send out an APB to those orgs? 
      • Email them to set up a meeting 
    • Distributing utility bill assistance information (we could do a lot with this)
  • Rachel will send out a scheduler for the next meeting
  • Paul will send Rachel an update about the energy efficiency materials that the commission is working on. 


  • Spreadsheet Check-in & Next Steps
    • Bluegrass Greensource might house this
    • Schedule a meeting in about 2 weeks (Rachel, Cathy, Robin & Giulia) 30-45min.
  • Energy Efficiency Kits Check-in & Next Steps
    • Neighborhood could be a pilot and apply for money through their city council 
      • Jennifer Reynolds? Gardenside?
      • Invite Chris to the next meeting & Jennifer Reynold’s at the next one
  • Overarching goal within the group: How do we create space for this in Lexington city government?


Suggestions about funding for our energy efficiency kits:

We might identify particular neighborhoods, such as Cardinal Hill or Winburn, and 

  • then contact the city council person for those neighborhoods, e.g. Jennifer Reynolds I think is relevant there, and find out if there is some city money.
  • contact the neighborhood associations for our target neighborhoods because there is a Neighborhood Association Grant program and this could be a  way to get funding for kits by getting them to apply for one of those grants.

Organizations that the EE Action Team can reach out to for funding for the energy kits: 

  • KY Colonels
  • Kings Daughters and Sons
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities (they all provide grants for stuff and won’t pay for staff time)
  • Lowe’s and Home Depot often have small grants for materials, often in the form of gift cards which can be spent at the stores.



  • Spreadsheet will be integrated with document from Judy (Rachel will share this out later and add the information to the spreadsheet)
  • Suggestion about compiling this information into a webpage (Judy will check with David about this) 
  • Paul will send the position paper to share with the rest of the group 
  • People are interested in pulling together all groups within Lexington in a summit of sorts/large zoom meeting (maybe the BGGS summit next year?) 
  • Reach out to all groups once our resource has been complied
  • Could Amy help us write a grant for the kits? (Guilia’s going to start looking for funding)
  • Energy Star DIY Guide 
  • Get the list of the churches the housing authority refers to (Judy will ask for the list) 
    • Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light 
  • Residential Energy Efficiency office 
  • Check and see if there’s anything else BGGS can provide to us? 
  • Share solar stories (Ask Cara about the status of solar stories)
  • Before and After videos with infrared visuals
  • Solarize solar tour – maybe also solarize again? (Rachel will get the list and email out) 
    • Would KET do a story on that? Or local neighborhood magazines? 
      • Judy said she could check who might be interested in those stories 
  • Register to vote! 
  • Toyota & Dow are working on a deal for a large scale solar construction that they PSC approved in April at the most recent hearing. THe deal was contingent on savings but didn’t take into account the demand savings, only the usage savings.


Thinking short term & long term 

Question: Is WE CARE a weatherization program, or just through KU? (Chris Woolery and Rachel Norton will work on answering this question. 

Look at national resources from the sierra club – on getting cities ready to transition from fossil fuels to coal 

Next Steps: 

  1. Short Term: 
    1. Create a 30 second video about what you’re doing to save energy & money and how we can be healthier 
    2. Giulia is going to check about our access to the BGGS Facebook group, and where the original EE kits were ordered from
    3. Doodle poll for next meeting
  2. Long Term: 
    1. Create a spreadsheet for the group going forward to gather data on other orgs (Robin will help Rachel do this) 
    2. Everyone will work towards getting in touch with one organization and bringing back information to the group next time

There is more we want to work on and address, but these are great ways to start!


Checking in with each other – 20 mins.

Quick recap of last meeting from Rachel – 10 mins.

  • See notes below

Overview of new options/collaboration – 15 mins.

  • Update
    • 100% renewable energy Kentucky presented to Jim Gray 
    • Empower Lexington was reactivated through this meeting with Jim
    • This team studied what a number of cities were doing & came up with a 3-year plan for a sustainability office 
    • A team member is writing a grant for this position and is working on finding the right grant
    • New team “Bluegrass Climate Action Team” is asking the city to develop and information climate website to acknowledge climate change and educate citizens about what they can do & more
  • Next Update
    • Empower Lexington plan approved in 2012, but no one enacted it
    • Minimum is a 1% energy savings per year 
    • We’re down to 4 foundations that might give us money
    • This is a difficult time to make cold calls and connect with people about funding
    • Council passed a resolution & we have a supportive vice mayor (Steve Kay)
    • A team member is working on a speaker’s bureau about climate change

Group Discussion about next steps – 15 mins.

  • You can join the next Bluegrass Climate Action Team meeting 4/25

Additional time for discussion (as needed) – 30 mins.

Rachel will: Send out an email with BCAT meeting, poll for our next meeting, notes & these items:

  • Electronic campaign to city council
  • DIY video distribution 
  • Data collection (to support Bluegrass Action Team website or Lexington energy burden)
  • Trying to get in touch/develop relationships with neighborhood associations


Our vision summarized through Rachel’s perspective:

It is clear, now more than ever, that we are in need of sustainability infrastructure in our local city government. Not only are people paying high bills, but our community is not centering itself on our advocacy, education, and creating opportunities for personal empowerment/agency. In order to do that we proposed a campaign as follows:

Step 1: Door knocking in communities known for high bills. When knocking we would like to:

  • Register people to vote
  • Ask people about their utility bills (is it an invasion of privacy to get the utility bills by address and then look for statistical anomalies by area? This would allow us to scientifically identify likely opportunities. Some of the variation would be explainable but an analysis of outliers by area would likely identify energy efficiency opportunities. Alternatively we could take the Warren, Minnesota approach. See link below.)
  • Ask people if they think a block party would be a good idea in their/our neighborhood (We would need to have data and recommendations to make this worthwhile)
  • Ask that if so, would they like their house to be a demonstration home for the block party
  • Are you interested in solar panels on your home? (We could look at Google Project solar at that time?) I think it would be best to come armed with data on homes with a large southern facing roof with a slope as close to 37 degrees as possible. This information is in the public domain.
  • Offer a postcard they could send to our mayor (is this the right person?) asking that they consider the importance of an office of sustainability in Lexington To enhance this we need a list of the functions of a sustainability coordinator and some success stories.
  • Get story-tellers/media involved ASAP
  • (Please add more as you see fit, if we knock, we may as well ask everything we want to ask)

Step 2: Decide on location (or locations for block parties) and begin logistics.

  • Find locations/folks with highest need  This relates to the data need mentioned above. If we could get electricity data by residence and roof information this would give us a good starting point.
  • Energy audits at homes before workshops; for clear scope of work
  • Solar site assessments could potentially also be done?
  • Sponsors

Step 3: Host block party/parties

  • Invite key stakeholders such as city officials and utility partners
  • Make sure it’s advertised heavily, involve story-tellers media very intentionally
  • Do our best to capture actual energy savings numbers as well as personal stories to be shared
  • Can we be making DIY videos while doing the workshops?
  • Consider any ways we could make knowledge easy to access after the workshops

We need to learn from other cities across the country or world. That way we have the best chance of getting good ideas that can be applied to Kentucky. As I mentioned in the meeting, I think we should promote something like Warren, Minnesota did with drones to identify candidates. See the article at this link


  1. I am wondering if Laura Greenfield’s KFTC EJ analysis of energy burdens (percent of income spent on energy bills) contains some of the data that John is asking for.  I think her analysis is based on census tract but she might know how to get more fine grained data? But the average burden in a census tract might be fine grain enough for our purposes, especially given the multiple goals for each door knock.
  2. I am wondering if neighborhood association websites/facebook pages, or “Nextdoor” pages would be good places for DYI videos.
  3. A team member said he would be happy to talk to our group about lobbying the city and the status of his efforts.