Thursday, February 03, 2011

Project brings solar energy to West Virginia

Solar energy is coming to the West Virginia coal fields on a small-scale basis. Proponents hope the project shows that renewable energy can work there. The Jobs Project, a group formed to bring alternative energy jobs to Appalachia, is building a 40- by 15-foot rooftop solar array for a doctor in Williamson, Vicki Smith of The Associated Press reports. The array will be constructed by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.

Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, said people were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago. "This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it's real technology, and they can have it in their communities," Getzen told Smith of the rooftop project. "In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal. There's still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy."

The Jobs project teamed up with Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs to develop the privately funded job-training program. Mountain View reports demand for solar energy has been growing in West Virginia and the company has tripled in size two years in a row. "This training model we're unleashing in Williamson is something we've proven," Mountain View owner Mike McKechnie told Smith. "It's not a pilot project. It's something we've shown works." (Read more)

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