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 and son in Louisville.


11:00 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Energy Talk Rescheduled

Former Assistant Secretary for Policy in the U.S. Department of Energy Sue Tierney was scheduled to speak in Louisville tonight at 6:30, but bad weather on the east coast has forced a cancellation.

I spoke with Tierney last week about sustainable energy, as well as coal’s future in the United States’ energy mix and differences between Chinese and American energy policies.

5:30 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

High Ozone Levels Expected This Weekend

Louisville Metro Government has issued the season’s first air quality alert .

The threshold for calling an alert is 101 on the Air Quality Index, which measures air pollution on a scale of 0 to 500. The ozone level is forecasted to be 104 this weekend.

APCD spokesman Tom Nord says the weather, rather than unexpected pollution, prompted this weekend’s alert.

11:30 am
Fri May 18, 2012

EPA Releases Results of Soil Testing to Black Leaf Chemical Site Neighbors

A sign on the fence surrounding the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Louisville's Park Hill neighborhood.
Erica Peterson WFPL

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent letters to homeowners in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood who live near the former Black Leaf Chemical site and had their soil tested earlier this year.

Read more
11:14 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Former Federal Energy Official Says U.S. Needs a Balanced Energy Mix

Coal-producing states like Kentucky are warily eying federal regulations that have begun moving the country away from fossil fuels.

Even so, Sue Tierney says she thinks coal will be around for awhile, though it will be cleaner and make up less of the nation’s energy mix. Tierney was the Assistant Secretary for Policy in the U.S. Department of Energy under President Bill Clinton. She’s giving a talk on what she calls “sustainable energy” in both the U.S. and China next week.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more