WV Coal Miners “Keeping the Lights On” Installing Solar Arrays!

West Virginia coal miners have always taken pride in supplying energy to the world. Although their work hours are long and the hazards of the job are many. They reluctantly dig coal to support their families, because there are no other opportunities for these hard working individuals. In a state that is politically controlled by the coal industry, politicians are bought and paid for every election. The campaign funds provided insure that clean energy will not find its way into the heart of coal country. This type of control by the coal industry in West Virginia has been going on for over 100 years. Politicians in West Virginia have fought for mountaintop removal, sued the EPA, and they have even gone as far as shooting a bullet through a mock cap and trade bill (that was already dead). They have done this just to protect the interest of the coal industry and their campaign funding.

But that is about to change. Now, thanks to a group called “The Jobs Project,” coal miners are getting the opportunity to provide others with clean, renewable energy.  The group is devoting themselves to creating renewable energy jobs in Central Appalachia, were coal dominates, from West Virginia to Kentucky. The group has just recently secured a first for the West Virginia southern coalfields, a rooftop solar array, which is being assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors. The rooftop array is being placed on a doctor’s office in Williamson, WV. The fact that it is located in the heart of coal country signifies, to an area that has been reliant on mining for years, that there can be life beyond coal.

The spokesman for the group, Nick Getzen, said, “This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it’s real technology, and they can have it in their communities.” The group has teamed up with a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, to develop a privately funded job-training program. The 12 trainee miners are earning $45 an hour for three days of work, which is a lot more than they earned working in the mines. After the installation, the trainees will be doing assessments on seven other properties. The solar company is also giving the miners the opportunity to branch out on their own and create their own sales leads and close those sales.  As they’ve stated, they are “not worried about creating competitors because there’s plenty of work to go around. Mountain View Solar & Wind has tripled in size two years in a row and is likely to do the same in 2011. This is a positive sign for West Virginia, which has been reluctant to accept renewable energy. As someone once said, “Small steps turn into big steps.” West Virginia coal miners have always bragged about “keeping the lights on.” Now, they can do it without hurting the environment.

Read More:  Solar power reaches southern coalfields

Photo Credit: ehoyer

6 thoughts on “WV Coal Miners “Keeping the Lights On” Installing Solar Arrays!”

  1. First of all I have lived in WV for 40 years. No coal miner chooses the coal mines it chooses them. My father and two brothers were coal miner’s. My father died from black lung, 1 brother died from a heart attack caused by shoveling coal all night at the age of 54, the other brother broke his back working in the coal mines.

    All courtesy of WV politicians forcing our men to work in the mines. Because KING coal keeps their bank accounts full. If you think starting pay of $15.75 an hour is being paid extremely well, you are crazy.

    The people of my state are getting sick and tired of watching our men slowly die or get blowed up in the coal mine. Two weeks ago a 19 yr old boy was killed in a coal mine. He didn’t choose to be there he chose the mines over Taco bell.

    I have a suggestion for you, come to WV coal country and tell a coal miner he works in the mine because he chooses to. Coal mining is nothing more than legalized modern day slavery. As long as politicians like Nick Rahall keep our men “in the coal” they are happy.

    So you should get your story straight before you post comments on a subject you know nothing about. Or set in front of your TV screen for a week watching a mine disaster like UBB unfold. The 19 year old that was killed in UBB was my oldest daughters classmate, he had no other choice. He lived in coal country. He was also planning his wedding to a girl he had dated since 6th grade.

    So please do not try to tell a WV citizen how great coal is for our state. We are not against the miner’s in our state, we are against the mining companies. Massey energy’s Don Blankenship kills 29 men and walks away with a retirement package of $17 million. Our coal miner’s retire with an oxygen tank and pain pills.

    So please do your research on my state before you post any further comments.

  2. What was your last job in journalism? Writing for Pravda during the Soviet years?
    Most coal miners do the job because they WANT to do the job. They get paid extremely well — more than double the average wage of West Virginians as a whole.
    Second, the organization is called “The JOBS Project.” It just MIGHT be a good idea to get your story straight BEFORE writing it.

    1. Publius,

      Thank you for leaving a comment..

      It was too hard to get hired on as a journalist back in the Soviet years.

      So, I worked in the WV coal mines instead!

      I worked in the mines, because I had no other choice at the time. Almost all the miners I worked with would rather be doing something else.

      Mining is not a glamorous lifestyle, as you might think.

      The average coal miner only makes around $60,000 per year, which is not that great!

      If you enjoy risking your life every day and keeping a severe cough, while looking like death is upon you.

      Then coal mining might be for you!

      BTW: A good writer should keep the reader interested enough to read the entire story, do research and leave a comment.

      So, Thank you Publius

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