‘Kentucky’s largest renewable power project’: Former coal mine to be turned into renewable energy site

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 5:30
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KENTUCKY (WYMT) - On Tuesday, officials with BrightNight, Rivian and The Nature Conservancy announced the former Starfire Coal Mine, located in Breathitt, Knott and Perry counties, will be turned into a solar energy center.

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the project has great historical significance.

We really hope that lots of people see this, lots of companies, lots of industries and try to put together these upstream, downstream partnerships, relationships like what we’ve done with BrightNight and build that type of infrastructure and build those types of relationships to see more scale like this,” he said.

He said once the project is completed, it will have 800 megawatts in energy, having the ability to power more than 500,000 households.

The Nature Conservancy CEO Jenifer Morris said it is good that the land will be used once again.

“This land is very, very special and to see it go back into productive use to create energy for the future of this community and quite frankly, the United States as a whole,” she said.

She said they must include the community in order to do that, while creating more jobs.

“We want to make sure the communities are at the table from the beginning. I think if you’re talking about putting solar on farmland and other things, there’s a lot of community tension where people can see the solar panels and sometimes that’s a challenging,” she explained. It needs to come with money for the tax space and a community fund, as well as good paying jobs and that will come, but right now we feel like right now, this particular space is not doing any of that so why not create jobs through the production of solar energy here.”

Rocky Adkins, Senior Advisor to Gov. Andy Beshear said the billion dollar investment will pay off.

He said it will help expand industries in the region.

“This investment that can grow to be a billion dollars, is important as we move into the future, as we attract new types of jobs, new industries, the workforce of the future, the economy of the future, to come here to eastern Kentucky,” he said.

The project will take place in four phases, with the first phase set to begin in 2025.