Lexington has a larger carbon footprint, per capita, than any other metropolitan area in America.
According to the Brookings Institution, in 2005 Lexington, KY had the highest per capita carbon emissions. The average Lexington resident emitted more than 2.5 times more carbon from transport and residences than the average resident of Honolulu.
Lexington also has an extremely high rate of energy consumption. In 2007 Fayette County used 4.6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, 92 million gallons of petroleum (includes interstate travel), and 7.5 million mcf (thousand cubic feet) of natural gas. The community generated 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. 35% of this came from commercial sources, 28% from residential, and 23% from transportation, 10% from industrial and 3% from waste. In 2010 Kentucky ranked 6th nationally in terms of residential electricity consumption per capita.
Energy costs are rising, making it more difficult to sustain our current energy usage.
Not only are such high usages bad for the environment, but they also increase the cost of living in our region. In 2011 the retail price of gasoline averaged $3.50/gallon in the US and the typical American household spent $4,155 on fuel—the highest share of family income spent on fuel since 1981. The cost of gas is only expected to rise. According to the US Energy Information Act the 2012 retail price for gasoline is expected to average 3.79/gallon.
To address these issues, Empower Lexington hopes to reduce community energy use by 1% annually.
City Council authorized Lexington to participate in The Voluntary Cities for Climate Protection Program. In 2009, approximately 75 community stakeholders and city staff began working together to create a plan for Lexington as part of this program. These meetings led to the development of Empower Lexington, a plan that once implemented, will make Lexington more energy efficient. Empower Lexington establishes an annual target of reducing energy usage by 1%, which is both attainable and will yield significant results. Click Here to learn more about this plan.
The Fayette Alliance served on the Land-Use & Agriculture committee of the Empower Lexington plan, and endorses that section’s recommendations. The Urban County Council will review the Empower Lexington Plan sometime in 2012.
We must become more sustainable, and energy efficient in how we live, grow, and function as a community. By creating a vibrant city connected to, and balanced with its surrounding farmland…Lexington will become the leader in sustainable growth in America—improving our environment, economy, and quality of life.
1. (Return to text.) “Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan American”, Brookings Institution, 2008
2. (Return to text.) Empower Lexington Presentation, Enviornmental Quality Committee 2.28.11
3. (Return to text.) “Short-Term Energy Outlook” EIA March 6, 2012