- Team Lead
- Bryan Phipps
- Team Lead LinkedIn Profile
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- Project / Program Description
The Solar Working Group of Southwest Virginia is working together to increase the use of solar energy in our region as a means to diversify our historically coal-dependent economy. Our project aims to install 350kW of rooftop solar at a high school and 80kW of rooftop solar at a 40-unit low-income housing complex for the elderly. These projects have the potential to yield between $240,000 and $535,000 in energy savings over a 25-year period. More importantly, they will serve as marquee projects for our goal of developing a renewable energy strategy and workforce development program for far Southwest Virginia, where the Appalachian Regional Commission now classifies six of our seven counties as “distressed” or “at-risk.” These projects were carefully chosen as representatives of a much larger set of solar projects that could provide the basis for the rapid growth of a solar industry in a region that faces severe challenges as a result of thousands of coal mining jobs having been lost in recent years. Development of these projects would provide economic inspiration in a region that is reaching for its future, deliver a case study on embracing innovation and collaboration, build skills for diversifying the economic base of our region, advance workforce training and entrepreneurship, and educate students and other community members about the potential for solar energy as a tool for economic development.