March 11, 2019 Read More →

Virginia company to build solar facility at abandoned coal mine site

Energy News Network:

A groundbreaking project to “re-energize” a coal mine deep in southwestern Virginia as a solar farm was green-lighted Thursday with the full $500,000 in federal funds the developers had requested late last year.

Sun Tribe Solar, based in Charlottesville, paired with the owner of the Mineral Gap Data Centers on the proposed $4.6 million solar project on the Wise County site, which was last mined in 1957. By providing up to 3.5 megawatts of renewable power to the on-site data centers, the project would decrease the centers’ operating budget and peak-load demands on the local distribution grid.

The Wise County solar farm was one of 10 economic development projects in the state’s coal country approved for federal grants by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith announced the winners via a news release.

Sun Tribe has developed a portfolio of 26 MW of solar and energy storage in Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states. The company is working on another 80 MW of large-scale solar projects in the region.

The Sun Tribe-Mineral Gap proposal was one of 19 mineland-related reuse applications submitted to the state mining agency last fall. A six-member, state-appointed committee charged with reviewing the proposals had the leeway to approve any number of the projects as long as the total cost didn’t exceed $10 million.

Virginia was allotted that amount in 2018 via the federal Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program, which is aimed at reclaiming minelands and boosting economies in Appalachia. Funding for 10 Virginia projects announced Thursday — ranging from $47,420 to $2.2 million in award money — adds up to a total of close to $9.1 million.

More: Federal funds to help turn Virginia coal mine into solar farm

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