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Clinch Valley Times
St. Paul , Virginia
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April 15, 2010     Clinch Valley Times
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April 15, 2010
 

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Page 8 CLINCH VALLEY TIMES, St. Paul, VA, Thursday, April 15, 2010 mining land use economics of solar farms explored i' by JaekKennedy approximate legal agreements Market demand for solar  For the past two years the Energy Technology Summit has been held at The University of Virginia's College at Wise bring- ing together energy producers, suppliers, energy innovators, government officials, and acad- emicians. The third summit will be held on Monday, April 19 of this year where new ideas are generated on how to enhance our energy driven economy. Wise County has long been known for its extensive energy production. Coal and natural gas have played significant roles in the shaping of our county; that continues to this very day and it shall for years into the future i The local coal industry provides L Well-paying jobs that fuel a national economy hungry for " electric energy. Entrepreneurs can expand the number of 'energy workers' in the local economy if energy technology - innovation is actively embraced. " Hundreds of acres of Wise ,County land is now going "underutilized in post mining land use. Yet there is the : economic possibility to obtain a ;-higher rate of return on investment (ROI) by properly : planned energy development and investment by new post mine '. land use. Lands that have minimal value due to past use andpresent conditions, such as former sur- face mined properties, should be evaluated for potential solar energy development. It is said that a coal-fire power plant produces approximately 11.5 kwh of electricity per square foot of coal consumption each year. A large photovoltaic solar farm located on mined lands may produce as much as 10x electric power yield over an additional twenty-year span. The potential result is maximization of kwh of electricity per acre to unparalleled levels of energy production in the Wise County coal-producing region. While skeptics may point to unfavorable economics of large solar farm construction" in the Wise County mountains, they may be in error. Mineral and surface land owners engaged in coal extraction may rind a myri- ad of incentives for which to give due diligence and study in the near-term. A mining firm has sunk cost considerations in re- clamation plans in either mou- ntain top removal or return to approximate original contour re- quired by federal regulation un- less a higher community use is identified prior to mine closure. Post mine land use ccmld result in reclamation bond re- ductions or transfer liabilities to a solar power farm firm through and regulatory agency approv- als. A community utilization of solar power generation would be a favorable post mined land use while, at the same time, building a more energy sustainable com- munity. In addition to reclamation incentives, Wise County could adopt ordinances to provide real estate tax relief for post mine land use that incorporates a solar farm. Precedent exists from a 1994 Wise County ordinance that provides tax relief for solar facilities and devices. Local pub- lic policy could help build a new alternative energy industry in partnership with coal and utility interests. Thinking ahead, coal produc- ers in some form of stock ownership of large solar farms, would be better positioned to engage any future mandated domestic or international Carbon trading market. Coal companies could produce carbon-based fuels and reclaim the land with alternative solar farms generat- ing not only electricity but what will become more valuable car- bon trading credits. Solar farm energy technolo- gies are improving very rapidly with the Germans viewed as the leading innovator in the sector. China is considered the low cost manufacturer of the solar power devices creaing a market bubble of competition. In short, solar power production is now a dyna- mic market growing rapidly. Solar power panel manufact- uring is a real possibility where there is sufficient local product demand. Economies-of-scale could be achieved provided a local workforce and solar power panel producers looked to not only a regional residential in- stallation approach but produc- ing for several 100-to-200 acre solar power producing farms in the Appalachian Mountains. If a solar power manu- facturing facility and a solar farm maintenance operations center were to be located in one of the Wise County enterprise zones, the solar power firm(s) would qualify for state employ- ment tax incentives while evoh/ing the concept of local energy production worker. Within this decade Wise County may have a trained workforce capable of photovoltaic solar panel production to serve both residential and commercial bui- lding markets and larger-scale solar oower electric generation .t farms built on once surface mined coal lands. Mountain Empire Community College is now a part of such a workforce training project; The workforce driver is solar nower demand. MARKET CORNER NEWS MARK YOUR CALENDAR The Clinch River Farmers Market will open May 8, 2ozo. All farmers interested in being a vendor at the Market, plan to attend a meeting at the St. Paul Town Hall Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. power generation is the key ingredient for solar power farms and PV solar power manufactur- ing facilities. There are realistic solar power market demand possibilities if coal communities strategically position to engage the power grid providers. Solar farm power provider agreements are possible with three electric utilities, e.g. Kentucky Utilities, Appalachian Power, and Dominion Resources from within Wise County. These public utilities are being re- quired to purchase alternative energy generation capacity now. In other words, market demand for well-positioned solar energy farms is growing as utilities seek to expand renewable energy portfolio standards. North Carolina's Duke Pow- er has sought to expand $100- million to create 850solar power generation sites including hom- es, schools, stores and factories to create a virtual power plant. The US Department of Energy is seeking to seed similar ideas in communities in the United States now. Similar federal government and public utility programs will drive PV solar panel market demand in this decade. The potential for nurturing a solar power industry within Wise County may be worthwhile if the economics and coopera- tion can be set upright. A large- scale venture of this type would require solar power innovators, coal company executives, utility planners, government policy makers and the community-at- large to work in tandem. There may be sufficient rewards for everyone to achieve realization but it must be explored. It was the impoverished Pou- nd native by the name of Napoleon Hill that once said, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Conceiving solar pow- er farms on mined land may lead others to believe, so our com- munity may achieve in energy production. Jack Kennedy. is a co- organizer of the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council's Energy Technology Summit held annually at The University of Virginia's College at Wise. He takes an active interest in public policy relating to energy and technology. Feedback is wel- come at Jack@JackKennedy.net Join the Arbor Day Foundation The ideal way to celebrate National Arbor Day is to plant trees, and the Arbor Day Fou- ndation wants people all across - America to participate. As a way to celebrate, everyone who joins the nonprofit Foundation during the month of April will receive 10 free shade trees. National Arbor Day and Virg- inia's Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, which is April 30 this year. Everyone who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in April will receive the following shade trees: red oak, sugar maple, Weeping willow, baldcypress, thornless honeylocust, pin oak, river birch, tuliptree, silver maple and red maple. The free trees are part of the nonprofit Foundation' Trees for America campaign. "The best way everyone can commemorate Arbor Day is to plant trees in communities all across America," said John Rosenow, chief executive, The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting in April or May with enclosed planting instructions. The six to twelve inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will hf= ranlaced free of charge. To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE SHADE TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30, 2010, or visit www.arborday.org/april. Workplace ..... performance Adult Education seminars offered by SVTDC Connection The Southwest Virginia i Technology Development (?en- ter is offering two new work- by Karen Gent : : place performance seminars as part of its professional devel- ; .............. '- opment curriculum for April. "Performance Coaching" and "True Colors - Person- alities in the Workplace" are the seminar topics. Shannon Blevins, the dir- ector of economic develop- ment for The University of Virginia's College at Wise and director of the SVTDC, will present the "Performance Coa- ching" seminar on Thursday, April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The program pro- vides managers, supervisors and team leaders the skills and techniques needed to coach employees toward peak per- formance. Participants will learn to maximize team mem- ber performance by using highly effective coaching skills and effective performance metrics. The cost for this class is $50 which includes lunch, re- freshments and course mat- erials. "True-Colors - Personali- ties in the Workplace_ will be presented by Stephanie Surrett on Wednesday, April 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The hands-on, interactive seminar will guide participants through the True Colors foundational experience.. Practical and use- ful activities apply the True Colors concepts to both per- sonal and professional lives. The cost for the class is $60, which includes lunch, refreshments and all course materials. Pre-registration is required three days before the class date of each seminar. Enroll by calling 276-889- 8180 or register online at svtdc.org/reg. Contact Elana Todt a.t 276- 889-8183 for more informa- tion. Your ad could be herel Moving Adult Learners Beyond the GED (Part I) Adult education is moving learners beyond the GED. In 2009, PlugGED In was brought to fruition. The idea of PlugGED In began with a challenge from Aneesh Chopra, then Virginia's Secretary of Technology and currently the Federal Chief Technology Of- ricer, to quickly move high school non-completers in Sou- thwest Virginia into technology- sector jobs in the area. PlugGED In was developed to address a regional education and employment issue. It was also created as a possible career pathway model to be replicated in other localities and states. The idea for PlugGED In originated in early 2008, and the first class began in February 2009. As Aneesh Chopra stated, it was "an idea to fruition in just twelve months." Southwest Regional Adult Education was chosen to pilot PlugGED In, a free, six-month program consisting of a con- textualized GED curriculum with the goal of helping adults earn their GED credentials, as well as preparing them to successfully move into targeted technology-sector jobs. Because the program serves the Virginia coalfield counties and is home to two new technology-sector industries, CGI and Northrop Grumman, it was an ideal location for this pilot program. PlugGED In classes began on February 2 and ran through July 31, 2009. Classes were held at the Southwest Virginia Technology Development Cen- ter in Lebanon three nights a week for four and a half hours each evening. The classes were led by GED instructors from Southwest Regional Adult Edu- cation "and IT instructors from Southwest Virginia Community College. The program focused on four content areas: GED curri- culum, Career Readiness Certi- ficate preparation, professional soft skills, digital literacy, and 21 st century skills. Included in the curriculum was the devel- opment of a capstone project in which participants integrated and applied knowledge and strategies learned from the PlugGED In core content. Over the duration of the class, students also met with career coaches and mentors from local industries, parti- cipants in mock interviews, experience online learning, and earned community college credits. Each of the nine students who completed the PlugGED In program graduated with a GED ' certificate, a Career Readiness Certificate, various technology certifications, and 24 college credits. The story of PlugGED In does not end here. Expansion of the program is currently under- way. PlugGED In 2010 began on November 2, 2009 and will run through June 11, 2010. Partners are Southwest Regional Adult Education and Southwest Vir- ginia Community College Classes are being held at Southwest Virginia Technology Development Centi:r. The focus of this cohort is developing technology skills for the workplace and college. There are currently 12 participants. THE CROSSROADS MDA is where help and hope meet for people with neuromuscular diseases. 1-800-572-1717 IIIIDR Muscular Dystrophy Association www, mdausa.or9 pGET TH00E" HONE, IT'S Ft)R " 3U. - c.dl  - Vokmad Ask about our Triple Pkr/offers starting at $95.95 Per Month Get Unlimited Local Phone, Caller ID, and Call Waiting Service for $2495 Per Month 87Z743,008538 "50  Imlhon epi,es 5-g1-10  1o nov* reeidenlid phoae  ,n   e,,,,s. **. $24;95 )s or tJnhroil tocol Ca!lin 0 odg..tgng'di it an oddlltonol ).0 per raaule.  phone  read Is a $5.00 a ma,nh addifon, xl. 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