By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - Gov. Ernie Fletcher said Friday he is creating a statewide energy task force to study Kentucky's future energy needs, maintain its environment and keep energy costs low.
The "Commonwealth Energy Policy Task Force" will collect public input from around the state, and develop a comprehensive plan for the future of Kentucky's energy, Fletcher said.
Its goal is to maintain the state's low energy costs, develop a plan for Kentucky's energy resources and preserve the state's environmental quality, Fletcher said.
"It is time to tackle the challenge of ensuring low-cost energy for the next generation of Kentuckians while we develop our natural resources in a responsible and environmentally sound way," Fletcher said.
Kentucky is one of the few states lacking an energy blueprint, he said.
The plan is needed if Kentucky wants to, among other things, maintain low electricity rates for residents and businesses, he said.
"This neglect certainly is hard to believe, considering the amount of resources we have and the fact that we have the lowest energy rates," Fletcher said.
The task force will begin meeting this month, he said.
It will hold three public meetings throughout the state - in central, eastern and western Kentucky, Fletcher said.
Commerce Secretary Jim Host and Environmental and Public Protection Secretary LaJuana Wilcher will be the panel's co-chairs.
Eight people will make up the panel: six cabinet secretaries and two lawmakers.
Other members are Executive Cabinet Secretary Allyson Handley; Economic Development Secretary Gene Strong; Finance and Administration Secretary Robbie Rudolph; Education Secretary Virginia Fox; Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester; and Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore.
Stivers and Pullin are co-chairs of the General Assembly's interim subcommittee on energy.
The panel will meet Nov. 12 at Central Kentucky Technical College, Nov. 15 at Hazard Community and Technical College and Nov. 17 at Hopkinsville Community College.
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