Proposed fund would provide grants for renewable energy projects on former coal sites in Virginia
New funding for renewable energy projects on brownfields and former coal sites could become available under a proposed program before Virginia’s General Assembly.
The Virginia Brownfield and Coal Mine Renewable Energy Grant Fund would provide up to $35 million annually for sun, wind and geothermal projects under House Bill 754, introduced by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. Dels. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, and Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, are chief co-patrons of the bill.
The proposal comes amid advocacy in recent years for cleaning up and finding new uses for abandoned coal sites. And as renewable energy sources play a larger role in U.S. electricity generation, efforts are underway to increase the industry’s presence in Southwest Virginia and attract new jobs.
Former mining sites can be expensive to develop, so the grant funding is aimed at encouraging new projects, Kilgore said.
“Is it the silver bullet? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s at least part of a proposal that we need to put together in Southwest Virginia to push energy and continue to be an energy provider in our neck of the woods,” Kilgore said about HB 754.
As proposed, the program would award grants on a competitive basis in the amounts of $500 per kilowatt of nameplate capacity from renewable energy sources on land that was previously mined for coal and $100 per kilowatt of nameplate capacity from renewable energy sources on brownfields. Grants would not be allowed to exceed $10 million for a single coal mine project and $5 million for a brownfield project not on previously mined land, according to the bill. A brownfield is an area contaminated by industrial or commercial use.
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