Regional Offices - Assistance to Businesses and Local Governments
The office's staff is available to work with new and existing businesses on developing alternative and renewable energy resources. This assistance includes technical review and advice on energy related grant applications to state and federal agencies. The office partners with other assistance providers including Small Business Development Centers, local Industrial Development Authorities, regional universities' Innovation Centers, Area Development Districts and others. Through this effort the Kentucky New Energy Ventures has funded projects related to converting biomass to ethanol, reducing potential subsidence from mining, assessing natural gas from stranded and shut-in wells and wind power. The staff performs feasibility studies, academic research and recommends projects for further funding and study.
The Regional Office personnel consult and encourage partnerships with other UK resources. Office staff in conjunction with UK's College of Agriculture are working with surface owners of reclaimed mine lands studying growing and harvesting potential biomass to energy crops. This project is an effort to allow land owners to utilize unproductive land in a positive manner. The office staff was instrumental in obtaining funding to utilize energy efficient affordable housing designed by students in the UK School of Design. Through DOE funding, this project may help revitalize some manufacturing especially hit during the recent economic downturn.
The West Liberty staff is working statewide with many county and city governments on U.S. DOE funded energy projects. The staff's activities consist of providing technical assistance, recommending assistant resources and progress monitoring. Field staff serves as a liaison role with Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) and Department of Local Government and the funded local jurisdiction. The projects include installing geothermal heating and cooling technology, creating synthetic natural gas, installing solar panels and retrofitting government buildings with energy saving material. This investment should extend the useful building life, reduce energy use and provide public educational opportunities.
CAER research areas, state energy policy and partnership development are stressed at the many outreach events which the regional staff participates. These include displaying and presenting at Uk Agriculture Extension Office Farm Fairs, Community and Technical College energy events, industrial and economic development meetings, chambers of commerce and other business organizations.
This activity has resulted in additional meetings with UK researchers on projects, tours of CAER lab facilities, business to business partnerships and an increased public awareness of UK's resources and capabilities. Conversely the office staff has participated in arranging meetings and tours for CAER and EEC personnel of coal mining and processing plants, biomass densification and cultivation programs. Regional staff has provided CAER and UK energy related information at the national levels. Staff has spoken at the National Environmental Partnership Summit and participates in workgroups of the National Pollution Roundtable.
The regional staff connects energy entrepreneurs with university and state resources. This allows technology transfer to occur between research/academic expertise and technology, agriculture, and manufacturing related businesses.