Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Working Together for the Future of West Virginia

From Press Release

“Energy independence is vital to our country’s security and economic future,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said. “A national comprehensive energy policy, where we use everything we have – coal, gas, solar, wind and others – would spur economic growth, and I truly thank partnerships, companies and communities that work toward achieving that goal.”

Aligning with this goal, a recently released report by Sustainable Williamson outlines a collaborative approach to energy diversification in West Virginia without picking winners and losers by adopting a genuine all-the-above energy strategy through what the report refers to as an “integrated path forward.”

Garnering unprecedented support from an array of unlikely stakeholders including political, government and economic development leaders alike, it seems that what the report describes as an “integrated path forward” may signify a new era in economic diversification by bringing two sides of the energy spectrum together as the key to unlocking West Virginia’s future.

Steve Kominar, Director of Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, emphasized what he believed to be “the most important thing to take away from this report.” He stated that “its proposed integrated path forward signifies a genuine all-the-above energy strategy where both traditional and emerging energy resources are integrated synergistically in order to position West Virginia as an energy leader for other states and perhaps the nation to follow.”

The 2013 Central Appalachian Sustainable Economies (CASE) Study entitled “Energy Integration: An Evaluation of Solar in West Virginia” is a part of an interactive regional network of innovators cultivating new ideas and resources in central Appalachia to grow healthy communities.

Sustainable Williamson’s board chair, Roger Ford, stated that “as a republican and outspoken supporter of fossil fuels, this report signifies what I believe to be an exciting opportunity not only for West Virginia but my home state, Kentucky.”

Ford added that “this report provides us the road map to assume the mantle of leadership in an energy development revolution to transform our region and the United States in a positive way.”

“This is a one of many reports that will be analyzing the full scope of energy integration in West Virginia that is built upon Mingo County Redevelopment Authority’s legacy of building collaboration and practical solutions for the southern coalfields through post-mine land use” stated Eric Mathis, the principle investigator of the report. “We are focusing on all energy resources, not just solar.”

Peni Adams, Director of McDowell County Economic Development Authority, said that “an integrated path forward is a win-win for all forms of energy, not just solar.” She went on to note that “the reports proposed Integrated Energy Parks may very well define the future of Southern West Virginia.”

Echoing both Kominar’s and Adam’s support of an integrated path forward, the report opens by stating that “within America’s present energy paradigm of drawing lines in the sand, we have come to a crossroads as we consider the future sustainability of America’s global position in traditional as well as emerging energy markets.”

In the spirit of collaboration the report goes on to state that “a strict demarcation has been drawn where we as a country either take the high road and adopt a genuine “all-the-above” energy strategy or continue down our present path of politicizing energy markets.”

Executive Director of the Southern States Energy Board, Ken Nemeth outlined his support of an integrated path forward. “Diversifying our energy resource base in the U.S. will ensure that we have adequate fuel reserves for many generations to come.  By capitalizing on innovation and new technologies, we can build a clean, affordable, reliable and secure energy sector.” He ended saying that he was “proud to see West Virginia leading the way.”

“The City of Williamson is excited to be a part of making history.” The mayor of Williamson, Darrin McCormick, went on to say “that Williamson is not only a national leader in sustainable communities but more importantly, a leader in rural economic diversification.”

The report ended with a quote by Albert Einstein stating that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Elaborating upon this quote, Mathis emphasized that “thinking outside of the box is essential if we are going to be successful in our pursuits of economic diversification in West Virginia and beyond.”

Mathis ended by saying “the problem in central Appalachia has never been fossil fuels, it has always been a lack of economic diversity and perhaps more pointedly a lack of successful projects that point us all in the right direction.”

You can read more about the report on Renewable Energy World:  HYPERLINK "" West Virginia Coalfields Announce Innovative Approach to Economic Diversification that Includes a Healthy Dose of Solar.

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