FRANKFORT — The sponsor of a bill that unanimously passed the state Senate last week is hopeful it will create jobs for the region by making biomass energy more easily accessible.
Brandon Smith, R—Hazard, introduced SB46 in January, and it has quickly made its way through the Senate.
The bill aims to allow the Public Service Commission to enter into a longer contract of 20 years with a biomass company should a company want to contract with the state; as legislation stands, the commission cannot do this. Smith said this would help in getting new energy possibilities into the region because it essentially lowers the start-up cost.
Comparing it to a new car payment, Smith explained the new legislation would spread what would have been a large, one-time start-up fee into smaller, more manageable payments over the 20-year contract.
“That’s a way of making it cheaper, more affordable, and more stable for people in that market,” he said.
Smith said the bill has the potential to create more than 500 direct and indirect jobs for the area, and within the first two decades after its implementation has a projected economic impact of $300 million.
Not only could his bill help with employment, it could also help with energy costs if a biomass company were to want to contract with Kentucky.
“It [could] create a biomass plant that would generate about 48 megawatts of energy. That would generate enough power to power 30-40,000 houses, depending how they’re insulated, it’d be enough to power pretty much all the homes in Perry County, should we get [a] plant here,” Smith said.
Smith said he is proud that his bill has passed unanimously because it shows a good example of “the bi-partisan effort in the Senate to do what is best for the citizens of the commonwealth.”
“With the devastating loss of jobs in our region, and the forcible downturn in the coal market by an overreaching federal administration, it is vital that we get our people back to work, which is ultimately their [the Senate’s] number one goal,” Smith said.