Energy Agency awards $475M for Sustainable energy projects in Battleground states like Pennsylvania

The Biden administration announced up to $475 million in federal support for sustainable energy projects in five states, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada, political battlegrounds.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the programs will speed sustainable energy development on mine sites. Kentucky and West Virginia, both Republican, have been heavily struck by the coal industry decline.

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, one of President Joe Biden’s signature achievements, funds it. Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania initiatives enhance coal-to-solar and hydropower transitions.

The administration said clean energy initiatives will boost energy security and keep mining communities in the energy sector.

Energy and climate policies are flashpoints in the Biden-Trump presidential election. Trump has threatened to cut Biden’s renewable energy initiatives and increase oil and gas production if he wins.

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According to Biden’s administration, the fresh investment strengthened his commitment to a “inclusive and equitable clean energy future that creates healthier, more resilient communities.”

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced a $1.3 billion pumped storage hydroelectric plant on a former coal mine site in Kentucky. Beshear announced a $81 million federal grant has been granted for plant development in Bell County, southeastern Kentucky.

“The mountains in this area are perfect for moving water from one elevation to another, creating electricity when we need it,” Turk added.

Over the past decade, Kentucky coal employment has plummeted as demand has diminished. The state reported 4,700 mine workers in Kentucky in 2023, including 2,700 in underground mines, compared to nearly 12,000 in 2013.

Beshear said Rye Development’s Lewis Ridge Pumped Storage Project in Kentucky will create 1,500 construction employment for a first-of-its-kind coal-to-pumped storage hydropower complex.

After construction, the plant will employ 30 people and power approximately 67,000 homes, he claimed.

Federal funds will also support:

  • A southeast Arizona project that integrate direct-use geothermal, clean heat and battery energy storage at two operational copper mines. It will reduce the mines’ thermal backup generator use and support 25 million pounds (11.3 million kilograms) of copper extraction. Kathleen Quirk, president of Freeport Minerals Corp., said the project will retrieve unrecoverable copper from prior mining. The project seeks 121 construction and 12 permanent operational jobs.
  • —A solar facility and battery energy storage system for three operating gold mines in Elko, Humboldt, and Eureka counties, Nevada. The Energy Department said the project might show the mining industry how to reach net-zero operations while fulfilling rising mineral demand by switching to clean energy. About 300 jobs will be created during construction.

Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, plans to build a utility-scale solar complex on almost 2,700 acres (1,090 hectares) of former coal mining area. Over 70,000 houses will be powered by clean energy from the project. The government claimed it will boost regional access to clean energy and address a crucial electricity-generation gap when the Homer City coal plant closed. Over 750 construction and six operational jobs are envisaged from the project. According to Boston-based Swift Current Energy, construction might begin in summer 2024 and be online by the second half of 2026. In November, it announced a 20-year power supply contract with New York’s system.

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Two abandoned coal mines in Nicholas County, West Virginia, would be converted into utility-scale solar farms to power 39,000 homes. The project will send solar energy to the grid via land and energy infrastructure from two disused mine sites. Four operations and 400 construction jobs are expected from the project.

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