Huntington, WV. – On Friday, United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm toured the West Edge facility and met with representatives from Solar Holler and Mountain Mindful before taking part in a roundtable discussion concerning West Virginia’s energy transition.
“Really, this community is embracing new chances and opportunity in their own way. Nobody is coming here to tell West Virginia what it should do because West Virginia is figuring it out and it’s really exciting,” Granholm told WSAZ.
The roundtable discussion participants included crew members from Coalfield’s Mingo County Highwall project, Mountain Mindful employees and representatives from U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin’s office.
Prior to the tour, Granholm met with Coalfield CEO Brandon Dennison, Solar Holler CEO Dan Conant, and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.
“There is an absolutely insatiable demand for clean energy everywhere across the country. The power can be used within the state and exported across the U.S. West Virginia needs investment and infrastructure to meet the demand,” Conant told the Herald Dispatch.
Over the last year, Solar Holler has expanded its workforce from 35 to 70 employees, with the expectation to hire another 60 this year.
The Granholm visit comes one day after EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz toured the Black Diamond site. That same day, the EPA official announced Coalfield Development was being awarded $200,000 for environmental industry job training.
“The rebuild of Appalachia starts right here. That is what we are doing. That is what our workforces are doing. As we look towards this transition, we are proud that we are part of this national conversation. West Virginia and the entire Appalachian region has a much brighter future now, Dennison said.
Coalfield Development is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization headquartered in Wayne, West Virginia focusing on rebuilding the Appalachian economy through social enterprise creation, job training, and community-based real-estate development.