In early September, the Appalachian Climate Technology Coalition (“ACT Now Coalition”) of West Virginia was awarded nearly $63 million in funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce following the competitive “Build Back Better Challenge.” This past week, leaders from various levels of government met to discuss how the Coalition will use this funding to support clean energy transition throughout West Virginia. Alongside the Coalition, voices at the table of this discussion included Senator Joe Machin (D-WV) and EDA Assistant Secretary Alejandro Castillo.
ACT Now’s original proposals, which primarily focused on repurposing abandoned mines for renewable energy generation and storage, remain at the forefront of this discussion. However, with such a large award of funding, more options for job and economic growth have become available. Some of these options include establishing a Learning, Innovation, Food and Technology Center in Charleston, West Virginia; revitalizing previously developed but abandoned land for modern uses; and creating a partnership between the Coalition and a solar company to have a solar training and logistics center in a former factory. As one official puts it, "one of the greatest points of [these discussions is] that if we collaborate and work together, how much more we can do together than we can do individually." At this time, it seems as if officials are truly working together to make sure that the funding awarded will go towards clean initiatives that will develop the West Virginia economy in the long-term.