The Dam Has Broken And West Virginia Has Awoken To Solar Power

West Virginia opens for solar energy.

The coal industry’s tight grip on West Virginia loosens. That dam cracks and gives way to alternative fuels. Think of the case with Nitro Construction Services, which provides commercial and industrial businesses with electrical, mechanical and technological services: the company is rooted in the coal industry, but it is now increasing its solar business.

Companies and constituencies are putting pressure on government decision-makers to pave the way for sustainable energy. And solar energy is now a cost-effective alternative. In fact, national developers are buying up recycled coal mining operations that intend to put large solar farms in place. They expect the Biden administration to adopt a major infrastructure program – one that will provide incentives to those businesses that can help lift poor regions.

“I feel like we’re been shot out of a cannon,” said Zach Drennen, director of solar energy operations at Revolt Energy, which is now a subsidiary of Nitro Construction Services. “West Virginia is only waking up to solar energy. We have been a coal-loving state, but the solar energy economy is now undeniable: a commercial system will pay for itself in six years and a residential area in nine years. Even customers who are in areas that are mountainous and cloudy will save money. ”

In August 2019, Drennen and his partner, Keena Mullins, started Revolt Energy. They explained to this writer that the business had a turnover of 1 million dollars in year one, and that it would beat 2 million dollars this year. It can double or triple over the next two years. There are now only 11 megawatts of sun in West Virginia, which is ranked nationally almost dead last. A renewable portfolio standard that requires a certain amount of green energy is necessary, says Mullins – something that at least half of the states now have.

Nitro Construction Services and Revolt Energy see the potential. The parent company installed 1,200 panels on the roof – a 487 kilowatt system. When the solar energy business is booming, the Revolt 10-person unit will add installers, electricians, procurement officers, salesmen and software designers. It’s a union shop and one that pays solid wages with good benefits – one reason why the United Mine Workers Association said they support President Biden’s development of green energy.

“We are pleased with this investment in solar energy and renewable energy and see this as a market with great potential for future growth,” said Douglas Reynolds, President of Nitro Construction Services. “With the current project at our Nitro plant, Revolt Energy shows that it can excel in large commercial installations as well as in homes.”

Solar panels will be placed at the Nitro Construction Services facility in West Virginia.

Solar energy is nationwide – more so than Florida, Texas and California. While they make up a significant share of the market, solar energy is still booming in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. This is because the panels have become so cheap and so efficient that they can save money for most homeowners and businesses: the panels can be installed at no cost. They are financed with a 20-year low-interest loan – a monthly payment that Revolt Energy says is less than almost all electricity bills.

This is possible due to several federal programs that include a 26% investment tax credit, accelerated depreciation and a lucrative grant from the Rural Energy for America program. Because companies get more tax benefits, they can increase the return on investment.

To be clear, Revolt Energy does not disconnect anyone from the grid: excess power is disconnected while shortages are compensated by the tools. It states that it uses a sophisticated software system that examines data over 50 years from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. For that purpose, they can accurately measure how many hours of sunshine will hit the roof. This is then included in the panels’ degree of efficiency to determine the needs of a given homeowner or business.

Last year, lawmakers in West Virginia passed bills allowing the two largest tools – American Electric Power


and FirstEnergy Corp.


– be able to install solar energy in steps of 50 megawatts. The legislature also passed a law that allows solar developers to enter into “power purchase agreements” with churches, schools and municipalities – contracts that give them guaranteed sales at fixed prices.

Politicians responded positively to testimonies from economic developers who said that potential companies demanded more access to renewable energy. The strategy works: An EDF Renewables unit and Raleigh Solar applied late last year to build a 92.5 megawatt plant and a 90-megawatt project, respectively.

“The coal lobby opposed the terms of the power purchase agreement, and the Republican legislature still passed it,” said Revolt co – founder Keena Mullins. “The United Mine Workers Association now supports the development of renewable energy. Appalachians who have benefited from coal understand that this industry is in decline. They want new jobs to move in. And there is much to say that the coal lobby has opposed bills being passed to allow more renewable energy, but the actual workforce that makes up the coal industry is in favor of these laws. ”

Keena Mullins and Zach Drennen, co-founders of Revolt Energy which is now part of Nitro Construction … [+] Services make up the solar area in West Virginia.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, natural gas accounts for 36% of the electricity generation portfolio. Wind and sun make up 10%. Atomic energy is 20%. And coal has fallen to its lowest level in decades, now at 19%. However, Solar has the greatest potential, it says. Meanwhile, the Solar Foundation says the industry employs 231,000 people in the United States. That is compared with around 52,000 for the coal sector, says Statista.

Most mining jobs are now linked to export metallurgical coal used to make steel and shipped to Asia. But United Mine Workers Association president Cecil Roberts notes that coal miners earn $ 100,000 a year while solar panel installers earn $ 20 an hour: miners will need two of these solar jobs to compensate them for a coal job. Nevertheless, he admits that coal production leads to global warming and black lung disease.

More to the point, one industry grows while the other dies. It is no longer 1950. It is 2021, and the industrial revolution has given way to the digital age and the new energy economy. Having a reliable job in renewable energy is far better than having no job security at all. With that, President Biden’s vision is to reach 100% green energy by 2035 and net zero by 2050, which will create a global market for clean energy worth $ 23 trillion. And his American job plan would pay for and train workers to run wind and solar projects.