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Energy Secretary Tours West Virginia

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses reporters at the White House earlier this year. (Cameron Smith/Wikimedia Commons)
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses reporters at the White House earlier this year. (Cameron Smith/Wikimedia Commons)
 By Nadia Ramlagan - Producer, Contact
June 7, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Clean-energy supporters say U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm's visit to the state on Friday signals the administration's support for helping rural states boost renewable-energy production.

Granholm, along with Sen. Joe Manchin - D-W.Va. - visited the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown and West Virginia University's Energy Institute for Rare Earth Elements Lab.

West Virginia Del. Evan Hansen - D-Morgantown - said the state must position itself to benefit from a clean-energy economy.

"The secretary being here is an indication that President Biden and his team care about states like West Virginia, and the impact that climate policies are having on real people and real communities," said Hansen.

Hansen also is an environmental scientist and heads the Downstream Strategies consulting firm, seeking to boost renewable-energy production in the state.

A recent report found West Virginia can dramatically increase renewable-energy production over the next 15 years and generate more than 70% of the state's electricity from wind and solar by 2035. Currently, less than %5 of the state's electricity comes from those sources.

Hansen says recent bills by West Virginia lawmakers have jumpstarted the use of rooftop solar.

"In the short term, we're going to see a huge increase in the amount of solar arrays that are built in West Virginia," said Hansen. "And we've already started to see that after the legislation that we passed in 2020."

He believes the state needs a game plan as more utilities seek to retire coal-fired power plants.

"We're feeling the impacts of the decline of the coal industry," said Hansen. "And we need to get in the game to realize some of the benefits from the transition to a clean-energy economy."

One study by Energy Innovation Policy and Technology LLC found that 86% of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. will soon be more expensive to operate than to replace with renewable-energy technology.

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