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Energy Conservation Program Could Help Utilities Hold Off on New Power Plant

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric are hoping to get more customers signed up with their Demand Conservation program. Created in 2001, the program installs a switch on air conditioning units that allows the utilities to briefly cycle them off during summer months to save energy.

“When it’s really humid, that makes those air conditioners really work hard. And those are the days when we’ve had to cycle this year, and we’ve only had to cycle five times so far this year,” says KU spokesman Cliff Feltham.

About 160,000, or 20 percent of the KU and LG & E customer-base, is signed up for Demand Conservation; the utilities want to increase that to at least 50 percent to help maintain or reduce current energy production levels.

“The ultimate goal is to not ever have to build another coal-fired power plant. Because the money that we spend on building another power plant, whether it’s coal-fired or natural-gas fired, or however it’s fired, is going to be in the half a billion dollar range and maybe higher,” says Feltham.

That cost would eventually be passed on to rate-payers.

KU and LG & E also recently launched a refrigerator recycling program to encourage customers to replace their old appliances with energy-efficient ones.

Lexington native Brenna Angel anchored local morning newscasts for WUKY through May 13. She joined the station in March 2010 after previously working for WHAS-AM in Louisville.