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Pilot program to test equity-focused clean energy initiatives in Louisville

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP) is in charge of the pilot program.
Credit: Yingyaipumi - stock.adobe.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP) has selected Louisville to be one of the 22 communities to participate in their equity-focused clean energy program, according to a press release from Mayor Greg Fischer’s office.

Louisville is supposed to receive technical assistance so it can design accessible sustainability programs that will benefit low-income and historically disadvantaged people the release said.

Louisville partnered with Metropolitan Housing Coalition and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) to help be advisors during this process.

“Our low-income and marginalized communities face higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, and other serious illnesses, as well as higher energy costs, all because of the disproportionate impact of climate change,” said Fischer. “Louisville Metro Government, along with many great community partners, have been working for years to mitigate the impacts of climate change through tracking and reducing our carbon emissions, growing our tree canopy, and investing in infrastructure.”

The release said that due to the coal industry booming in the 1800s and the concentration of non-biodegradable materials like plastics, chemicals and rubber in west Louisville, this has been impacting those living there for generations. Historic redlining of communities of color based on their race and income has also contributed to the issue.

Non-biodegradable refers to anything that can’t be broken down by living organisms, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

The dictionary also says redlining means discriminating against people needing housing or insurance.

Tony Curtis, director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition said, “The Metropolitan Housing Coalition has a long history of working on energy affordability, accessibility, and equity issues for low- and fixed-income households, as utility costs are a key driver of accessible and attainable housing.”

Fischer has a history of starting environmental programs. He started the Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability - formerly the Office of Sustainability - in 2012 and created programs like the Cool Roof Incentive Program, the Energy Project Assessment District Program and the Solar Over Louisville campaign.

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