In a U.S. state where coal is still king, solar energy is beginning to come on strong, as West Virginia gradually begins to prepare itself for the transition off fossil fuels.
Despite U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)’s avid support for fossil fuels, including the coal industry in which he happens to have a personal financial stake, “West Virginia’s solar energy profile shows signs of sudden growth, and a new surge of activism could help accelerate the state’s inevitable transition to clean power,” veteran renewable energy reporter Tina Casey writes for Triple Pundit.
West Virginia places 48th among 50 U.S. states for solar deployment and only has 311 jobs in the industry, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But a recent change in state law creating an easier path for large solar projects “appears to be a game-changer,” Casey says.
“At a time when small and large businesses are actively seeking out opportunities to run on clean power, West Virginia’s poor showing in the solar industry could have a ripple effect that discourages employers from setting up shop in the state,” she writes. And to some degree, at least, “West Virginia’s own Department of Economic Development appears to recognize the bottom-line case for making the jump to clean power. The agency continues to highlight fossil energy industries as important contributors to the state’s economy, but it has also embarked on a campaign that emphasizes economic diversification.”