Environment

Louisville has officially kicked off an education and advocacy campaign to promote the use of solar energy.

“Solar Over Louisville” is a project of the Louisville Sustainability Council. The initiative is meant to promote solar energy among businesses, industries and homeowners in the city, as well as connect interested parties with information about solar energy.

Project coordinator Paul Brooks said Solar Over Louisville has three jobs.

“The first is to be an inspiration to those who see renewable energy as the path to a future sustainable Louisville,” he said. “The second is to be a good idea to those who are looking for a solid long-term investment. And the third is to be a pain in the butt to status quo fossil advocates.”

The organization has a goal of getting an additional two megawatts of new solar capacity installed in Louisville by the end of this year. That’s a small amount, Brooks acknowledged. Together, Louisville Gas and Electric’s coal-fired Mill Creek and gas-fired Cane Run plants create more than 2,000 megawatts of energy.

But Brooks and others stressed the importance of beginning a transition to more renewable forms of energy as  a way of addressing issues like climate change, environmental health and the city’s economic viability.

Mayor Greg Fischer said projects like Solar Over Louisville are becoming increasingly important to the city’s economic development efforts, as Louisville tries to position itself as a forward-thinking, sustainable community.

“We need to get past kind of the conversation in the community that sometimes you hear that, well, you know, ‘this stuff isn’t really that important’ and ‘we’re trying to be too lefty on stuff like this,’” Fischer said. “This is mainstream stuff. Sustainable environmental responsibility is mainstream and is critical for us to meet the kind of potential that we have here in our community.”

Although both Fischer and the Metro Council have spoken in favor of Solar Over Louisville and solar energy in general, Brooks said there weren’t any additional city incentives to help the project meet its goals. Federal tax credits are still available for new solar installations, and Brooks said the city might offer some additional financial incentives in the future.