Skip to Main Content
Watch Senate State and Local Government Committee Watch House Small Business and Information Technology Committee

Kentucky's Energy Needs

Renee Shaw and guests discuss Kentucky's energy needs. Guests: State Senator Danny Carroll (R-Benton); Carrie Ray, energy director of the Mountain Association; Kate Shanks, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; and Randal Strobo, an environmental attorney with Strobo|Barkley PLLC.
Season 30 Episode 20 Length 56:35 Premiere: 07/17/23

About

Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis of major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw.

For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions in real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form. Viewers with questions and comments may send an email to kytonight@ket.org or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 800-494-7605.

After the broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

To purchase a DVD:
Call 800-945-9167 or email shop@ket.org.


Tune-In

KET Mondays • 8/7 pm

Stream

Watch on KET’s website anytime or through the PBS Video App.

Podcast

The Kentucky Tonight podcast features each episode’s audio for listening.


Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, currently serving as host of KET’s weeknight public affairs program Kentucky Edition, the signature public policy discussion series Kentucky Tonight, the weekly interview series Connections, Election coverage and KET Forums.

Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include a daily news and information program, Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

Renee has also earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), with three regional Emmy awards. In 2023, she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the NATAS, one of the industry’s highest honors recognizing television professionals with distinguished service in broadcast journalism for 25 years or more.  

Already an inductee into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2017), Renee expands her hall of fame status with induction into Western Kentucky University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in November of 2023.  

In February of 2023, Renee graced the front cover of Kentucky Living magazine with a centerfold story on her 25 years of service at KET and even longer commitment to public media journalism. 

In addition to honors from various educational, civic, and community organizations, Renee has earned top honors from the Associated Press and has twice been recognized by Mental Health America for her years-long dedication to examining issues of mental health and opioid addiction.  

In 2022, she was honored with Women Leading Kentucky’s Governor Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award recognizing her trailblazing path and inspiring dedication to elevating important issues across Kentucky.   

In 2018, she co-produced and moderated a 6-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. 

She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; and was recognized as a “Kentucky Trailblazer” by the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Administration during the Wendell H. Ford Lecture Series in 2019. That same year, Shaw was named by The Kentucky Gazette’s inaugural recognition of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government.  

Renee was bestowed the 2021 Berea College Service Award and was named “Unapologetic Woman of the Year” in 2021 by the Community Action Council.   

In 2015, she received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault & human trafficking. In 2014, Renee was awarded the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the KY Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform. Two Kentucky governors, Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Andy Beshear, have commissioned Renee as a Kentucky Colonel for noteworthy accomplishments and service to community, state, and nation.  

A former adjunct media writing professor at Georgetown College, Renee traveled to Cambodia in 2003 to help train emerging journalists on reporting on critical health issues as part of an exchange program at Western Kentucky University. And, she has enterprised stories for national media outlets, the PBS NewsHour and Public News Service.  

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Kentucky, a board member of CASA of Lexington, and a longtime member of the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit organization of women of color committed to volunteer service. She has served on the boards of the Kentucky Historical Society, Lexington Minority Business Expo, and the Board of Governors for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Panelists Discuss Finding New Energy Sources to Meet Demand As Coal Production Declines

The slogan “Coal Keeps the Lights On” remains largely true in the commonwealth, although the industry’s dominance over power generation is not what it once was.

In 2014, coal supplied about 97 percent of the state’s energy needs, according to Kentucky Coal Association President Tucker Davis. Since then, that rate has dropped to about 69 percent due to tighter environmental regulations on the mining and burning of coal and increased use of natural gas for power generation. Davis says diversification of energy sources will be important in the future, but he adds that for now, the state will continue to rely on coal.

“Kentucky coal is the backbone of all industry here in our commonwealth,” says Davis. “It’s the driver of good-paying jobs and every facet of our economy.”

Historically, Kentucky’s abundant coal reserves and robust mining industry helped keep electricity rates low in the state. Davis says in 2014, the commonwealth had the third lowest industrial rate in the nation and the eighth lowest residential rate. Since then, 11 of the state’s coal-fired power plants have shuttered as utilities switch to natural gas, which can be cheaper than coal and burn more cleanly. Davis says those closures have been accompanied by higher utility costs for consumers. He says now Kentucky is 17th in the nation for residential customers and 21st for industrial entities.

Kate Shanks, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, says even with the increases, the state’s electric rates remain competitive for commercial customers. She says global factors influence energy prices here, such as the war in Ukraine, as well as domestic regulatory issues.

“You do have a marketplace that is heavily influenced by policy at the federal level,” says Shanks.

Even advocates for renewables acknowledge that coal will continue to drive Kentucky’s energy sector in the near term. But Randal Strobo, an environmental attorney in Louisville, says the state should invest more in greener energy sources like solar and wind power to prepare for the future.

“With all the benefits that renewable energy provides to the environment, to people’s health, it’s really a no-brainer to start bringing that more online,” says Strobo.

Coal Versus Natural Gas and Renewables

The state’s coal industry has been on the decline for decades. In 1980, about 45,000 Kentuckians worked in coal jobs. Today that number is closer to 5,000.

Still coal remains a potent force in Frankfort. Industry advocates lobbied the 2023 General Assembly for legislation to make it harder for utilities to retire coal-fired power plants. Under Senate Bill 4, utility companies would have to receive permission from the Kentucky Public Service Commission before closing a coal-powered generation station and prove the closure would not adversely impact electrical service in the state.

Opponents argued the legislation would lead to higher costs for utilities forced to maintain aging coal plants, which could lead to increased rates for consumers. They contend SB 4 will also limit investment in renewables.

Proponents of the legislation argued that coal-fired plants are more reliable and resilient sources of electricity. They blamed rolling blackouts among some utilities in the state during the frigid weather last December on too much reliance on natural gas and renewable sources, which they contend aren’t as reliable.

Strobo acknowledges that natural gas generating stations did encounter problems during the cold snap, but he says coal plants did as well. He says reliability is an issue for any energy source but adds that reliability among renewables is improving with new battery storage technology and updated transmission grids.

Carrie Ray, energy director of the Mountain Association, says the notion that renewables can’t be a reliable source of power is based on misperceptions and outdated information.

“There have been a number of recent studies from our national labs, from the Department of Energy, from major research universities that have shown that increasing proportions of renewables on the grid actually increased stability and reliability,” says Ray.

Despite growing interest in renewables, utilities around the state still get less than 1 percent of power generation from solar and wind. Hydroelectric power comprises 8 percent, while natural gas accounts for 23 percent, according to the latest Kentucky Energy Profile from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

State Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) acknowledges that renewables are good for the planet, but he says they simply can’t supply the state’s or the nation’s energy needs at this point.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t start having more brownouts and blackouts in the commonwealth because we don’t have enough baseload energy,” says Carroll. “The wind, solar, they cannot power this country. We’re moving way too fast for that.”

The Push for Nuclear Power in Kentucky

Carroll spearheaded the creation of a state nuclear development working group to explore a range of issues involved in bringing nuclear power generation to the commonwealth. That group includes lawmakers, state officials, and representatives from the utility industry.

“The purpose of this group is to plot a course, primarily focusing on the need for a nuclear commission within the commonwealth and how that would be established,” says Carroll. “We need to do this with some haste – we cannot fall behind because I assure you that other states are investing tens of millions of dollars in nuclear energy and wanting to bring reactors to their state.”

Carroll says nuclear power has evolved far beyond the days of Three Mile Island, the Pennsylvania nuclear plant that experienced a partial meltdown in one reactor in 1979. He says reactors today are smaller, safer, and generate less waste than earlier versions. He also says former coal-fired generating stations could be converted to nuclear. With the rise of electric vehicles, Carroll contends the United States will need to build 300 nuclear reactors by the year 2050 just to keep pace with domestic energy demands.

While she acknowledges that nuclear technology has gotten safer, Ray says there are cheaper solutions to energy needs that involve far less risk. One option, she says, is to promote energy conservation strategies like better insulation and energy-efficient lighting and appliances so that homes and businesses consume less power.

“We could take that money that we invest in nuclear and invest it in efficiency and renewables – technologies that we know work today,” says Ray.

Strobo applauds the efforts of legislators to “think outside the box” on energy issues, but he says nuclear reactor safety and disposal of radioactive waste remain significant concerns.

“Until we have really good solutions for that, I think we’re going to find that nuclear’s going to be hard to implement,” says Strobo. “The more we focus on nuclear, the less we’re going to focus on other things that are proven to be workable.”

Energy and Climate Change

Along with Kentucky’s continued reliance on coal comes the problem of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Shanks says the Kentucky Chamber recognizes that global warming is real and that most of the problem results from combustion of fossil fuels. Even though the United States contributes about 14 percent of greenhouse gasses globally, she says the nation is working to reduce those emissions. She says the trick is to transition to energy alternatives in ways that minimize expenses and disruptions.

“Because if we get it wrong and we go too fast or we go the wrong direction for too long, there are costs,” Shanks says. “We really to see that we have all those options on table, including renewables so that we can design the energy mix that fits our needs so that we can be the most affordable energy in the U.S. as well as the most reliable and resilient.”

Carroll says he doesn’t “buy into all the climate change,” arguing the research is contradictory. But he contends that people who are concerned about global warming should embrace nuclear power.

“It’s green,” says Carroll. “To fail to take it seriously and to fail to get ahead of the game on this would be a huge mistake for the commonwealth.”

Strobo says the United States historically has contributed far more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country. He says the global nature of the problem requires everyone to participate in the solution.

“The only way we’re going to really solve it is from bottom up and the top down,” says Strobo. “We need all hands on deck to do it, including our state government officials.”

Whatever policies Frankfort lawmakers may pursue, Ray says they must include a strong and responsive Public Service Commission, which regulates power, water, and telecommunications utilities in the state. She says the PSC should represent the needs of all Kentuckians and protect against unnecessary utility rate increases.

“The Public Service Commission has seen a continual erosion in their authority and their funding, which is really disheartening,” says Ray. “We need a robust and well-funded Public Service Commission to ensure that our utilities are acting in the best interests of every Kentuckian.”

Sponsored by:

The show hosts and the show logo.The show hosts and the show logo.

Season 30 Episodes

Early Childhood Education

S30 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/26/24

Abortion Legislation

S30 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/19/24

School Choice and Education Issues

S30 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/12/24

State Budget Discussion

S30 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/05/24

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Higher Education

S30 E37 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/29/24

Safer Kentucky Act

S30 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/22/24

Legislative Priorities in the 2024 General Assembly

S30 E35 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/08/24

Governor Andy Beshear's Budget Address

S30 E34 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 12/18/23

2024 Legislative Preview: Part Two

S30 E33 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/04/23

2024 Legislative Preview

S30 E32 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 11/20/23

Analysts Discuss What to Expect on Election Day 2023

S30 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/06/23

Candidate Conversations: Lieutenant Governor

S30 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/30/23

Candidate Conversations: Governor

S30 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/23/23

Political Analysts Forecast the 2023 General Election

S30 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/17/23

Secretary of State; Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E27 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/09/23

Auditor of Public Accounts; State Treasurer

S30 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/02/23

Kentucky's Economy, Jobs and Taxes

S30 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/25/23

Higher Education in Kentucky

S30 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/18/23

Kentucky's Health Care Challenges

S30 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/11/23

Education Issues in Kentucky

S30 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/21/23

Fancy Farm Preview and Kentucky Politics

S30 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/31/23

Kentucky's Energy Needs

S30 E20 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/17/23

Artificial Intelligence

S30 E19 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 07/10/23

Jobs, Inflation and the Economy

S30 E18 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/26/23

SB 150 and LGBTQ Issues

S30 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/19/23

Horse Racing Safety

S30 E16 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 06/12/23

A Discussion of Gun Laws

S30 E15 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/05/23

Recapping The 2023 Kentucky Primary

S30 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/22/23

2023 Primary Election Preview

S30 E13 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/15/23

Republican Candidate for Secretary of State

S30 E12 Length 15:00 Premiere Date 05/08/23

Republican Candidates for Governor

S30 E11 Length 1:29:20 Premiere Date 05/01/23

Candidates for Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture

S30 E10 Length 1:15:06 Premiere Date 04/24/23

Challenges Facing Kentucky Schools

S30 E9 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/17/23

Policy Analysts Recap the 2023 General Assembly

S30 E8 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 04/10/23

Recap of the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E7 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/03/23

Kentucky Legislation on LGBTQ+ Youth

S30 E6 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 03/20/23

Student Discipline Legislation

S30 E5 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/13/23

Gambling Proposals in the Kentucky General Assembly

S30 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/27/23

Kentucky's Teacher Shortage

S30 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/20/23

Exploring Local Government Issues

S30 E2 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/13/23

Child Abuse and Neglect in Kentucky

S30 E1 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/06/23

See All Episodes

caret down

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates

Upcoming

Early Childhood Education - S30 E42

Renee Shaw and guests discuss early childhood education. Scheduled guests: State Senator Danny Carroll (R-Benton), chair of the Senate Families and Children Committee and sponsor of the Horizons Act, SB 203, that addresses the child-care industry needs in Kentucky; State Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville), member of the Senate Families and Children Committee; Sarah Vanover, Ed.D., author of America's Child-Care Crisis: Rethinking an Essential Business, and policy and research director for Kentucky Youth Advocates; Kate Shanks, vice president of public affairs at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Brigitte Blom, president & CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence; and Andrew McNeill, president of Kentucky Forum for Rights, Economics & Education (KYFREE). A 2024 KET production.

  • Wednesday February 28, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 28, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight - S30 E43

  • Monday March 11, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday March 11, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 12, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 13, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 13, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday March 13, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 13, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight - S30 E44

  • Monday March 25, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday March 25, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 26, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 27, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday March 27, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Wednesday March 27, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 27, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

Early Childhood Education - S30 E42

  • Wednesday February 28, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 28, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 27, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 27, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday February 26, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 26, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET

Abortion Legislation - S30 E41

  • Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 21, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 21, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 11:01 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:01 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:31 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:31 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 6:01 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 20, 2024 5:01 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday February 19, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 19, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET

School Choice & Education Issues - S30 E40

  • Wednesday February 14, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 14, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 14, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 14, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 13, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 13, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 13, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 13, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday February 12, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 12, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET

The State Budget - S30 E39

  • Wednesday February 7, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 7, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 7, 2024 1:00 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 7, 2024 12:00 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 6, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 6, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 6, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 6, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday February 5, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday February 5, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Kentucky Colleges & Universities - S30 E38

  • Wednesday January 31, 2024 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 31, 2024 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 31, 2024 1:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 31, 2024 12:30 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday January 30, 2024 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 30, 2024 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 30, 2024 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 30, 2024 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 29, 2024 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday January 29, 2024 7:00 pm CT on KET
Top

Contact

Explore KET