With Kentucky facing challenges and critical decisions relating to the future of energy use and generation, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) hosted a debate on Tuesday, Sept. 22 with gubernatorial candidates Jack Conway (D) and Matt Bevin (R).
For one hour, the candidates answered questions on a variety of concerns to the 1.7 million Kentuckians served by KAEC member cooperatives. The 52-member board, representing 26 local cooperatives across Kentucky, attended the debate, held at KAEC’s headquarters in Louisville. Both candidates recognized the importance of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives in the lives of the people they serve, stressing the legacy of reliable and affordable electricity, especially in rural areas dealing with poor economic conditions.
“We are going to need to have steady and affordable energy sources both now and going forward,” Bevin said. “This is imperative.”
“I worked closely with the rural electric cooperatives,” Conway said of his work on energy issues in the administration of Governor Paul Patton. “I chaired a task force that told the entire state that going to a deregulation of the electricity industry made no sense for a low-cost state like Kentucky that uses its electric rates to create jobs. And I hope you feel that as Attorney General of Kentucky, I’ve looked out for the ratepayers and economic development in rural Kentucky.”
“Certainly, our utility costs have historically been a great demand for us,” Bevin said. “If there is anything we could be great at, I mean truly a beacon for the rest of America, it would be as a manufacturing hub.”
The candidates also addressed questions on business and workforce development, education, pensions, deregulation and how Kentucky will deal with the federal mandates in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The October issue of Kentucky Living, KAEC’s flagship statewide publication, will feature a comprehensive summary of the candidate’s remarks.
“We are encouraged they understand the importance of rural Kentucky and the importance of having affordable energy to drive job growth in the future,” said Chris Perry, KAEC CEO and President. “It’s critical that the next governor understands the challenges faced by the utility industry.”
Perry said KAEC and its member cooperatives look forward to working with the next governor on the issues discussed at Tuesday’s debate.