Listening to the voices of Kentuckians about the Bluegrass State's energy future is the idea behind a series of six dinner conversations going on this spring across the state.

Tonya Torp, who attended A Seat at the Table event in her hometown of Lexington, says the state has an obligation to help those who worked in the coalfields as it moves toward a new energy economy.

"As that industry begins to disappear, those folks who have brought energy to this country for so many years deserve to be the ones that benefit from new ways of bringing energy to this world," she states.



States are being asked to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Kentucky has delayed responding to the Clean Power Plan, while it is challenged in court, political and industry leaders claiming electric rates will jump and the economy will suffer.

But Torp says there has to be a transition "towards a better way," including efficiency and renewable energy.

"When I think of it, I don't think of clean energy, because that has such a stigma," she says. "I think of these things as being right and just and positive. And, they don't pollute the water and they don't pollute the air."

Chris Woolery, a homebuilder by trade, says energy efficiency is the gateway to making a transition.

"Create jobs with low risk - some would say no risk - investments, that pay for themselves, pay back," he urges. "So really, in my opinion, it's a no-brainer solution."

Noting that Kentucky is falling far behind other states when it comes to renewable energy, Woolery says policy changes are needed to kick start investments.

The ideas being gathered during the forums will be used by the organizing group, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, to create a plan for the state's energy system.