This is part of a series of brief posts on ‘clean energy jobs’ opportunities for sparking meaningful employment, quickly, in the United States as discussed in Clean Energy Jobs: Stimulate Me.
Clean Energy Jobs Blow In (not blow up) Coal River Mountain: $250 million per year for 25,000 jobs
We often hear about how coal mining is critical due to jobs. Well, West Virginia has seen coal-mining jobs fall from 120,000 to 15,000 due to automation. And, the atrocious war on Appalachia called mountaintop removal really is designed quite specifically to take the miner out of the mine. You could say that it does the same thing to the job market that it does to the mountains.
According to Appalachian Voices,
The employment benefits of wind development as compared to coal mining are substantial for nearby communities. Development of a 229 turbine wind site on Coal River Mountain would directly create between 200 and 250 jobs per year for the first 2 years of construction and would support more than 50 permanent jobs in the area – potentially in perpetuity. Surface mining would directly create between 50 and 150 jobs per year for about 14 years while the mines were active, after which the land would be unsightly, unstable, and of little use for economic development in the forseeable future.
At this time, there is a battle under way for defining West Virginia’s future. The Coal River Valley has remained relatively pristine in the face of all of the MTR throughout West Virginia. Traditional fossil-fuel energy community and coal companies look at that pristine terrain and see “opportunity”. (Think, I must say, Once-Ler from Dr Seuss’ book The Lorax.) Yet, others look to this situation and see an opportunity to carve a new future for West Virginia and its citizens.
The warfare on Appalachia has extended recently to Coal River Mountain, with blasting to destroy (essentially) forever this beautiful, diverse landscape and devastate its great potential for enduring wind production. There is still breathing space to stop the explosions before the damage goes too far (with temporary reprieves due to activist protests against MTR) … but each blasting cap eats away at that margin of opportunity.
Interestingly, putting wind power into not just Coal River Mountain, but throughout Appalachia at suitable sites, offers up another interesting potential for exploration: using miners to create underground hydro storage to enable Appalachia wind to have embedded storage (perhaps in old mines?) that would enable selling the electricity for peak prices when it is needed, rather than simply take the price to be had when the wind blows.
Coal Energy Jobs Blow In (not blow up) Coal River Mountain Program: $250 million for a program to foster greater and faster wind penetration in Appalachia. $230 million should be dedicated to paying 15% of the costs for putting wind farms in Appalachia (with the Federal government to receive a 2.5% share of electricity production, the state to receive 2.5%, and the local community 2.5%; the remaining 7.5% is to be funding for the developer (whether private or public). The remaining $20 million is to be used for research on constructing (underground) power storage to enable cost-effective large scale power storage for Appalachia Wind. Roughly one-half of these funds should be to support demonstration projects. This funding mechanism / path should lead to a total of about $1.2 billion moving into Appalachia wind projects each year.
This $250 million funding would create roughly 25000 jobs in some of the most impoverished communities in America.
Clean Energy Jobs series posts: