Raleigh County leaders continue to discuss concerns regarding solar farm

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Discussions continued on Tuesday about bringing a solar farm to Raleigh County.

One of the looming concerns about bringing a solar farm to the area, which would produce clean solar power and energy and send it around a six-state area, is how this would impact the coal industry.

“The only problem I have and I’ve got to answer for myself: ‘Will it affect the coal industry?’ And so, that’s something that I have to personally do for myself,” Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver said. “The other commissioners have to do the same thing.”

That was one of the questions raised in the workshop meeting about the proposed Raleigh Solar Farm.

However, it is not a done deal yet. The county and Dakota Powers Partners are still at the negotiating table.

On one hand, the solar farm would bring in about 100 new jobs and approximately $1.4 million in taxes over a 15-year period.

Tolliver says the Public Service Commission determined in their months of hearings that this farm will not have too much of an effect on the coal industry.

Raleigh County wants to make sure that the agreement will pay off in the end.

“And we’ve got to sit down and figure how much will Raleigh County benefit over the years of this project whether it is 15 to 20 years,” Tolliver said.

If the county reaches an agreement, that will not be a guarantee that the Raleigh Solar Farm is coming.

It just means that the county will accept if they are chosen by the company. State Senator Rollan Roberts (R-9) was in attendance, and he says he wanted to make sure that the company would not be asking for state subsidies like the wind farms do, that of which he opposes.

He says as long as this project will benefit the county in the long run and not hurt the coal industry he thinks it might be time to consider renewable energy options.

“Right now, I think that we have to, whether we like it or not, embrace renewable energy and that portfolio is not offensive to the coal industry either,” he said. “They’re West Virginia people. We know we need to go there just how we get there from here is sometimes a little bit challenging. That’s what we’re working through.”

The commission plans to have a public hearing in the coming weeks before making a final decision.

You can check out the website for the proposed farm by clicking here. 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.