Legislation passed to turn former coalfields into solar farms

West Virginia

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Coal has been a part of West Virginia’s economy and culture for decades.

When energy comes to mind in the Mountain State, coal is the first thing that pops into our heads.

Aerial view of mountaintop coal mining in West Virginia. Courtesy: Kent Mason

I can think about what coal really means to West Virginians. This is the place we went to for our livelihoods. These were the jobs and incomes that held our families together and gave people their futures.

Thomas Minney, State Director, The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia

However in recent years, coal production has decreased in West Virginia – open, cleared, and flat fields formerly home to coal mines have become the front-runner for something brighter on the horizon thanks to some new legislation.

Aerial view of mountaintop coal mining in West Virginia. Courtesy: Kent Mason

There was a bill passed this last legislative session, SB 583, and that authorized the first 400 megawatts of solar energy production to be installed on former mine lands.

Eriks Brolis, Economic Development Lead, The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia
Courtesy: The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia

Solar energy sites are in the works on former mine land and coalfield sites in north-central West Virginia as well as in the southern half of the state.

The southern coalfields present a lot of opportunity. There are tens, if not, thousands of acres that can potentially host these solar facilities.

Eriks Brolis, Economic Development Lead, The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia
Workers clean solar panels for maximum efficiency at the power solar facility in Lancaster, California. Courtesy: Dave Lauridsen

Solar facilities that will bring new waves of energy to West Virginians so that sunlight and Mother Nature can keep tradition alive.

For more information on how The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia looks to bring solar energy onto reclaimed coalfields and mine lands, please click here.

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