Kentucky encourages use of solar energy

Two years ago, after Frankfort, Ky., resident Angela Mitchell watched "An Inconvenient Truth," she sat down with her three children and discussed how they could do their part.

They decided that ideally their 1,600-square-foot home would rely solely on solar energy. But Kentucky's weather isn't always sunny, and Mitchell wanted her children to be able to do "normal kid things" like watch television when they wanted.

The solution was net metering, which allows her home to harness the sun's renewable energy -- becoming its own mini power plant -- while remaining tied to the electric power grid. If the 27 photovoltaic panels on Mitchell's roof produce more energy than she needs at the moment, the energy is siphoned to the local power plant, and she gets energy credits for use on cloudy days.

Although Kentucky approved net metering in 2002, becoming the 37th state to do so, only a handful of houses in the state use it. Last week the Kentucky Public Service Commission began to establish guidelines regarding net metering, in hopes that streamlining the application and installation process will encourage more residents to invest in solar systems.

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