Southwest Virginia

Photo by NREL/Dennis Schroeder

Photo by Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Appalachian Voices is committed to seeing investments made in solar energy in the seven counties of Southwest Virginia that has historically been the coal-producing region of the state. Our goal is to help establish a renewable energy sector that builds community wealth and gives the region a competitive advantage in attracting new business interests.

In a 2015 strategic plan, the Appalachian Regional Commission called for “accelerating the development and use of renewable energy sources” and promoting “green and renewable energy options.” This enthusiasm for renewable energy has been echoed by local planners, elected officials and many other leaders in the region. Solar power in particular holds tremendous potential to reinvigorate Southwest Virginia’s slumping economy.

Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia

Appalachian Voices partnered with University of Virginia-Wise and People Incorporated to co-convene a Solar Workgroup with nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia.

The economic benefits of a renewable energy industry in Southwest Virginia could be significant, especially if it grows to include all aspects of the solar value-chain, from manufacturing to engineering to installation. Regional electricity demand is expected to grow over the next 8 years and the types of businesses being recruited to the area will rely on abundant, redundant, and renewable energy. Fulfilling a part of that demand growth with locally generated renewable energy would provide an economic boon and a powerful leverage point for scaling up a diverse regional renewable energy industry sector.

Visit the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia website to learn more and get involved.

More resources

The Solar Workgroup released a “roadmap” in November 2017 to lay out the steps needed to grow a robust solar energy sector in Southwest Virginia.

Interested in hearing about the news and stories from our communities about the the new economy that is rising to meet the challenges of today in Southwest Virginia? Check out our monthly e-newsletter, The Mountain Ascent.

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