solar panels

Erica Peterson

Three lawmakers have been added to a committee that has been considering a controversial bill that would scale back how much households with solar panels are reimbursed for producing excess energy for the electrical grid.

The move might help extend the life of the legislation, which has had trouble passing out of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Tom Fitzgerald, an environmental activist and attorney with the Kentucky Resources Council, called the move “highly unusual.”

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State lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would scale back how much homeowners with solar panels get reimbursed for putting energy back into the electrical grid, though the legislation has stalled for the time-being.

Electric utilities are required to give Kentucky households credits that can be used on future power bills for generating excess energy. Currently those credits are equal to retail price of energy, but under House Bill 277, the credits would be reduced to the wholesale price of energy.

Hemlock Semiconductor Group is permanently closing its idled polysilicon plant in Clarksville, citing global trade disputes that have led to an oversupply of the compound used in solar energy panels.

The company says 50 Clarksville-based employees will be offered to stay with the company, but will have to relocate.

The company's president, Denise Beachy, announced the decision to the The Leaf-Chronicle on Wednesday.

Construction on the on the plant located near the Kentucky line was begun in 2009, and the facility was close to complete when Hemlock announced in 2013 it would not begin construction because of the supply glut and disputes with China over tariffs.

Hemlock will now work with local officials to decide how to dismantle the facility and to determine which parts can be repurposed for other business uses.

Fort Knox is unveiling the largest solar panel array on a military installation east of the Mississippi River. The new additions will complement the large solar network already operating at the post.

A ceremony Wednesday morning at the Hardin County army post will debut the array, which will be larger than any other solar panel farm in the state of Kentucky.

The new system includes 10,000 photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. A Fort Knox spokesman says the post will be able to supplant a portion of its energy consumption with the solar panels at a cheaper rate than electricity provided by local power plants.

The new array was constructed at no cost to the government through a partnership with Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.

At the conclusion of a 25-year contract, ownership of the array will be transferred to Ft. Knox, with all energy production available to the military post at no cost.