Erica Peterson

Environment Reporter

Erica reports on environment and energy issues for WFPL, which run the gamut from stories about the region’s biodiversity to coal mine safety and pollution issues. In the name of journalism, she’s gone spelunking, tagged mussels and taste-tested bourbon. Erica moved to Louisville in June 2011 from Charleston, West Virginia, where she worked for the state’s public radio and television affiliate. Besides Kentucky and West Virginia, she’s lived in New Jersey, Minnesota and Illinois. She lives with her husband in Louisville.

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Environment
2:33 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Air Pollution Control District Plans to Revisit Permit Fees Soon

Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District is considering raising the fees industries pay for certain types of permits.

Many of the fees companies pay to the Air Pollution Control District are based on the tons of various pollutants they emit every year. But as both technology advances and tightening federal regulations reduce air pollution, Louisville’s air is getting cleaner and the fees paid to the district are getting smaller.

District Spokesman Tom Nord says that’s a ‘good news, bad news’ situation for the agency.

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Environment
5:31 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Task Force Recommends Gradual Merger Between MSD, Louisville Water

A task force commissioned to study Louisville’s utilities is recommending a gradual merger between the Metropolitan Sewer District and the Louisville Water Company. The group issued its recommendations to Mayor Greg Fischer today.

Fischer ordered the analysis after a state audit of MSD showed egregious waste and inefficiencies. The group was tasked with studying the operations of Louisville Water, MSD and Metro Public Works and identifying ways the entities could collaborate.

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Environment
3:05 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Coal's Share of U.S. Electricity Generation Continues to Decrease

The federal government has released its short-term energy outlook, and the news isn’t good for coal.

This time last year, about 44 percent of America’s electricity was generated from coal. Now, that share has fallen to 36 percent. The news was predictably rosy for natural gas: low prices and increased environmental controls on coal mean more plants are burning gas, and natural gas has continued to expand its generation share.

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Local News
2:29 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Beshear Names New Public Service Commissioner

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has appointed a new Public Service Commissioner to fill a spot that’s been vacant since December. Beshear’s office announced today that Linda Breathitt of Lexington is the newest commissioner.

Breathitt served as a PSC commissioner in the 1990s. After that, she became a senior energy and regulatory advisor at a Washington D.C. law firm, and was appointed as a commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Local News
4:47 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

LG&E Spokesman Keeling Announces Retirement

Louisville Gas and Electric Vice President of Communications and spokesman Chip Keeling has announced his retirement, effective at the end of May. Keeling started at LG&E in 1999 and has served in his current position for the past decade.

Keeling’s decision to retire comes after he was charged with driving while intoxicated after Thunder Over Louisville last month. He has since pleaded not guilty, but police reports say Keeling used a company-issued strobe light to try to bypass traffic, and then claimed he was acting in an official LG&E capacity.

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Local News
5:56 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Consultants Predict Financial Benefits of Utility Collaboration

The task force studying potential collaborations between several Louisville utilities has one more week to finalize its recommendations to Mayor Greg Fischer. The group heard from a consultant today about some potential financial benefits to a merger.

The utility task force was assigned to analyze the services provided by Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville Water and Metro Public Works and determine what functions could be consolidated. According to the consultants advising the group, there are numerous financial reasons for at least some type of collaboration.

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Environment
5:15 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Facing Federal Action, Kentucky Moves to Increase Reclamation Bonds for Surface Mines

Coal companies will have to pay more to mine coal in Kentucky under new regulations issued by the Energy and Environment cabinet. The state took action after the federal government threatened to take over the state's surface mining program.

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Environment
7:00 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Utility Task Force Hasn't Ruled Out Potential Merger Between MSD, Louisville Water

The utility task force studying a potential collaboration between the Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville Water Company and Metro Public Works is nearing the end of its work.

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Environment
6:15 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Paper Argues Energy Prices Should Reflect External Costs

A new paper by a progressive think tank argues energy prices are too low. The authors examine the external costs that result from different fuels and conclude that the country’s energy mix would change if consumers were forced to pay more.

The paper lays out the case for more expensive energy, arguing that ratepayers aren’t paying for the external costs of fossil fuels when they flip a light switch or fill up at the pump.

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Environment
6:00 am
Mon May 7, 2012

New Louisville Brewery Relies on Solar Energy

Solar panels on the roof of Apocalypse Brew Works, on Mellwood Avenue.

Kentucky still isn’t exactly a hotbed of solar-powered energy. In the latest estimates, the state government says 92 percent of the state’s power came from coal last year, and solar didn’t even show up on the chart. But even so, one new brewery in Louisville is relying on the sun to power its beer-brewing process.

Apocalypse Brew Works held a soft opening late last month. Eight new beers were on tap, and all were made possible through the rows of solar panels on the brewery’s roof.

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