The April, 2020, issue of The Highlands Voice celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 583. It would further the development of renewable energy resources by allowing the state’s utility companies to “plan, design, construct, purchase, own and operate” and recover certain costs of developing renewable generation and energy storage facilities through a program overseen by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
Now we are moving forward, toward seeing the benefits of that bill realized. Appalachian power has issued a Request for Proposals to build its first large solar array in West Virginia.
The bill allows both of West Virginia’s major utilities to build 200 MW of solar, 50 MW at a time. The project announced today will be Appalachian Power’s first 50-MW array. It will increase solar capacity in West Virginia to five times what it is now.
One of the goals of the bill was to make West Virginia more attractive to certain types of companies. Many employers won’t come to West Virginia unless they have access to large amounts of renewable electricity. Once this solar project is built in 2022, this obstacle will be removed and businesses with renewable electricity targets can site their operations here, bringing jobs to West Virginia.
According to the request for proposals, the solar array must be in West Virginia and on land previously used in electric generation, industrial, manufacturing or mining operations to include brownfields, closed landfills, hazardous waste sites, former industrial sites, and former mining sites. This will put degraded land back into use.
Senate Bill 583 was originated by Delegate Evan Hansen and received bi-partisan support.