West Virginia’s largest solar farm will be set up on a former coal mining site

West Virginia’s largest solar farm will be located on the site of the 5,800-acre Hobet Mine, one of the state’s largest former coal mines, which went bankrupt in 2015.

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West Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm

The solar farm will be located on 3,000 acres of the site, which straddles Boone and Lincoln counties in the southwestern part of the state near Charleston. It will feed into an adjacent 2,800 acre site that will house industry, accommodation, hospitality and leisure, and the entire site will be known as SunPark. The solar farm is the first phase of the project.

The 250-megawatt solar farm is led by SEVA WV, part of the Kansas City, Missouri-based solar and storage project development company Savion Energy. (It is a Shell holding company.)

The project will be led by Devanna Corley of SEVA WV, who said [via WV News]:

I am inspired by the blank canvas presented in Boone and Lincoln counties. There is a real opportunity to attract new businesses, increase population, develop tourism and teach our children the importance of renewable energy.

As senator [Joe] manchin [D-WV], SEVA supports a variety of energy policies. This includes renewable energy such as solar and wind power, as well as coal and natural gas, which West Virginia markets globally.

SunPark is expected to be completed no later than 2024. The solar park represents an investment of approximately $320 million and is expected to create between 250 and 300 construction jobs that will pay an average wage of $30 per hour.

In February 2020, Electrek reported that West Virginia lawmakers have unanimously passed a bill to increase solar power across the state.

Read more: West Virginia could install solar power at former coal sites

Electrek’s Grasp

I felt pretty happy about this news, until I read Corley’s quote. Corley, who is director of business development for the development group The Thrasher Groupsaid SEVA WV, like Manchin, also supports a “diversity of energy policies”, including coal and natural gas.

We know why Manchin supports fossil fuels – they are a cash cow for him.

But why does Corley support fossil fuels? Does she really believe that energy diversity is the answer, or is she playing politics?

Read more: The real reason Joe Manchin is sabotaging America’s clean energy plan

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said “Corley and his team have been relentless in their efforts to make this project a reality.”

Why would SEVA WV even need to be “relentless” about the SunPark project? The coal industry is about to become obsolete. This is why this solar farm is built on the site of a large closed coal mine which subjects the surrounding low-income populations to air and water pollution. Shouldn’t state lawmakers be rushing to make the progress of solar initiatives like this as easy as possible?

It’s a big first for West Virginia, but as usual, its lawmakers continue to cling to fossil fuels. Heck, even the person who ran this big solar farm says they still support coal and natural gas.

The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that West Virginia actually fell from 45th in the country in 2021 to 48th in the national ranking of states for solar.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Photo: “Ramps Mountain Mobilization Hobet Mine WV 12-07-28-159.jpg” by Duffernutter is marked by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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