CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, along with state and local officials and representatives from Clearway Energy celebrated the groundbreaking of the Black Rock Wind Farm in Grant and Mineral counties, during a virtual ceremony.
The project, which was first announced in May 2019, will be located on the Allegheny Front and will generate 115 megawatts when completed.
“West Virginia has to be a diversified state, we don’t want to forget about the coal and natural gas industries, but we want to welcome the alternatives,” said Gov. Justice.
Clearway Energy is making a $200 million overall capital investment on the project, with $52 million being spent on payroll and services during construction, CEO Craig Cornelius said.
“We’re bullish on the Mountain State’s future as a hub for innovation investments,” said Cornelius.
Most of the expected 200 construction jobs will go to local contractors, through the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council, according to Cornelius.
The project is also expected to bring in millions of dollars in property taxes to the two counties and millions more to the state in B&O taxes, Justice said.
Clearway plans significant donations to local non-profit groups. Local officials lauded them for donations that have already been made in the community.
When finished, the project will include 23 windmills, making 5 megawatts each, increasing the state’s wind capacity by 15%, officials said.
Clearway already has purchase agreements, for the power, in place with AEP and Toyota.
Company officials said they will hold a job fair this spring to fill long-term operations and maintenance jobs at the facility and will be starting a wind technician pilot program to retrain people from the coal industry. That program will include free training, travel costs and a stipend. “We don’t want to leave people behind, we want them to come with us,” Cornelius said.
In 2012, Clearway opened the Pinnacle Wind Farm, also in Mineral County, just five miles from the Black Rock site.
Later this year, Clearway will make an $88 million investment to re-power the Pinnacle site, extending its life by at least 30 years, according to officials.