Special Subcommittee on Energy

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

Of the 2014 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> September 19, 2014

 

Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 4th meeting of the Special Subcommittee on Energy was held on<Day> Friday,<MeetMDY2> September 19, 2014, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, at the Clay Community Center, Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Representative Richard Henderson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Jared Carpenter, Co-Chair; Representative Richard Henderson, Co-Chair; Senators Ernie Harris, Jimmy Higdon, Ray S. Jones II, Brandon Smith, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Sannie Overly, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, John Short, John Will Stacy, and Fitz Steel.

 

Legislative Guests: Senator R.J. Palmer, Minority Floor Leader.

 

Guests: Gail Wright, Executive Director, Gateway Area Development; Keith Gannon, Chairman, University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, former Representative Adrian Arnold; David Points, Executive Director, Montgomery County Community Development; Dr. Gwen Sloas, Ed.D., Director, Morehead State University at Mt. Sterling; Dr. Cary Green, Department Chair, Agricultural Sciences, Morehead State University; Dr. Hans Chapman, Assistant Professor, Applied Engineering and Technology, Morehead State University; Dr. Carol Christian, Director of the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, Morehead State University; and Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus, Department Chair, Earth and Space Science, Morehead State University.

 

LRC Staff: D. Todd Littlefield, Janine Coy-Geeslin, and Susan Spoonamore, Committee Assistant.

 

Biomass Research at Morehead State University

Dr. Cary J. Green, Professor and Chair, Agricultural Sciences, Morehead State University (MSU), discussed research by a graduate student and a professor in the MSU Department of Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Green said that biomass production has the potential to reach 12-15 million tons with little change in land use. To meet the goal of 25 percent renewables by 2025, there must be changes in land usage and distribution of production. A major issue is whether eastern Kentucky farmers are willing to grow biomass for energy production. Ideas need to be developed to encourage farmers to grow energy crops. A paper survey sent to 1,000 farmers in 48 counties east of I-75 generated 198 responses. Thirty-nine percent indicated a willingness to produce energy crops. The research showed that the farmerís most discouraging aspect of growing biomass was market potential. It was suggested that grants should be awarded for research and development to advance the technologies, and that government incentive programs should be provided to supplement establishment costs.

 

Dr. Green stated that the survey also indicated that tobacco producers and hay producers were the most likely to be willing to try growing energy crops. The least likely were livestock/equine producers because their land is used for pasture. Farmers most likely to be interested in producing biomass were younger and had higher education levels and larger disposable income. The responses revealed curiosity about how to grow biomass. Dr. Green stated that there is a lack of background knowledge among farmers and the general public with regard to growing biomass and biofuels.

 

In response to Representative Hubert Collins, Mr. Green said that no research had been conducted to see how many acres in Eastern Kentucky are not productive. He said that there is biomass potential in some reclaimed mining lands.

 

In response to Representative John Short, Dr. Green said that he did not know the profit margin per acre on raising energy crops.

 

In response to Senator Brandon Smith, Dr. Green said that the survey research only dealt with the production of biomass crops and not the utilization of animal waste for energy production.

 

In response to Chairman Richard Henderson, Dr. Green said that education relating to biomass is important, but the producer must be able to make a profit.

 

In response to Representative John Will Stacy, Dr. Green said he was not involved in the survey process and could not say which crops were mentioned. The man who headed up the research left the university for another Job. Dr. Green agreed that it would be a good idea to talk to the small farmers in eastern Kentucky about which biomass crops could be grown and the amount of required investment to produce the crops.

 

Energy Systems and Sustainability at Morehead State University

Dr. Hans Chapman, Department of Applied Engineering and Technology, testified about ongoing energy sustainability projects. MSU recently undertook a project to determine the carbon footprint of the school. Data was collected from various units in the university regarding transportation, refrigerants, agriculture, purchased electricity, faculty/staff commuting, air travel, solid waste, waste paper, and wastewater. The largest carbon emissions are from purchased electricity, followed by solid waste and refrigerants. MSU's carbon emissions compare favorably with other colleges around Kentucky. A new college course was developed to help students better meet multifaceted demands of the energy field. Funding was received from Siemens and Morehead State University for renewable energy laboratory equipment. Future priorities included extending the teaching of energy systems to cover undergraduate and graduate level courses, establishing a Center for Research and Teaching of Energy Systems, and seeking funding to support the proposed center.

 

In response to Senator Robin Webb, Dr. Chapman said that clean coal goes hand in hand with renewable energy.

 

In response to Representative Tanya Pullin, Dr. Chapman said that the university heritage group should be consulted before projects are undertaken.

 

In response to Senator Brandon Smith, Dr. Chapman agreed that more research is needed in chemical looping and bio-conversion

 

Future of Science and Mathematics Education

Dr. Carol Christian, Director of the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, Morehead State University, explained that the Academy is a two year, dual-credit residential high school for academically exceptional juniors and seniors from across Kentucky. The beginning target group is 60 students who are entering their junior year and who have expressed career interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM+X). Applicants should be interested in inventing and imagining, and should seek civic and regional engagement. Selected students complete a minimum of 60 college credit hours and receive a high school diploma. Tuition, room, and meal plan are provided at no cost. Students may take up to 18 credit hours per semester. Upon approval from the Assistant Director of Academic Services, students may take more hours for a fee. The Academy provides the opportunity to learn with other academically exceptional students. Students will live on-campus in a newly renovated residence hall. Counselors and advisors will be available to support students academically, socially, and emotionally. Students are MSU college students and will be allowed to participate in most activities with the exception of intercollegiate sports and Greek life.

 

An applicant to the Craft Academy must be a Kentucky high school sophomore; must have completed geometry, algebra I and algebra II prior to enrollment; must score a minimum 22 for math on the ACT or minimum 520 on the SAT; and must submit a completed online application. If he or she advances in the selection process, then the student and parents are invited to participate in an on-campus interview.

 

In response to Senator Robin Webb, Dr. Christian said that programs are being put into place to address the needs of students who may have difficulty adapting to a college environment.

 

Space Science

Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus, Department Chair, Earth and Space Science, Morehead State University, discussed nanosatellite technologies at MSU. Dr. Malphrus said that space has become an important industry in Kentucky. The stateís number one export in 2013 was from aerospace-related companies, which in total have become a $5.6 billion industry. The region, which includes southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky, recently became a federally designated manufacturing zone and has access to $1.3 billion in stimulus funds. MSU focuses on technology, development, and operation of nanosatellites. These satellites, about the size of a loaf of bread, can be used for data transfer, financial transactions, homeland defense, tactical security situations, and GPS navigation. Eastern Kentucky is poised to be a major player in nanosatellite development, mission operations, spacecraft qualification, and workforce development. MSU is starting the first space science engineering program in eastern Kentucky and offers a Masters of Space Science in Space Systems Engineering. Faculty and staff are world-renowned, and all faculty have worked in the aerospace industry.

 

MSU has approximately $2 million in contracts each year with NASA, the Department of Defense, FedEx, and other U.S. firms, as well as companies in Italy and Russia. The Earth and Space Science facility is a $15 million research and teaching structure. MSU has a spacecraft assembly building where a spacecraft can be built in its entirety. Five satellites, built completely or partially at MSU, are now in orbit. Depending on the contract, satellites are launched by NASA, Russia, or the European Union. MSU recently received a NASA grant to send a satellite to the International Space Station in 2016.

 

Dr. Malphrus said that the goals of the program include expanding space missions and related research. The program seeks to further the aerospace industry in Kentucky and in the southwest regional aerospace corridor.

 

In response to Senator Ernie Harris, Dr. Malphrus said that several of the satellites are in geosynchronous orbit, but are in a lower orbit that limits their usable life. There are a number of considerations pertaining to security clearance, particularly for foreign students. Most of the programs do not require a higher level security clearance.

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.