Pikeville solar panel farm project aims to put coal miners back to work

Published: Mar. 17, 2019 at 6:43 PM EDT
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A new project coming to Pikeville is hoping to put coal miners back to work.

The project would create jobs for 200 construction workers and 50 permanent jobs.

The plan is to build a Solar Panel Farm on a reclaimed mine land and is three years in the making.

"It's the biggest renewable project in Appalachia," Ryan Johns pointed out.

Johns is the Vice-President of RH Group.

Toyota recently announced their partnership for a 700-acre solar panel farm in Pike County.

"Electricity will be generated and will go on the PLM which is the post-sale power for the entire east coast. Services about 64 to 65 million people," explained Johns.

Johns says this project is a game-changer for the region.

"For one, we've never had renewable energy as an option," said Johns.

He says the solar panel farm will put Kentucky on the map for new jobs.

"It's going to give Kentucky a chance to compete for the projects in Apple, Amazon and Facebook, Google," Johns pointed out.

Project Co-Developer Adam Edelen says the best part of this project is simple.

"The best part is we will create new jobs for out of work coal miners," said Edelen.

The job will utilize the skills coal miners already have.

"Coal miners are the best-trained workers in the world. These are people who show up for work every day. They are used to working in a team. They are highly trained," explained Edelen.

After the failure of recent projects, Edelen ensures this project is set in stone.

"This project is going to happen and we strongly believe that people need to keep their word and we intend to do that here," said Edelen.

Edelen says the farm will diversify the region's economy.

"Renewable energy is going to be a very important part of not only our present economy, but it's going to be critical to developing the economy in the future," Edelen explained. "We want to certainly protect the coal jobs we've got but we have got to work hard to make sure that there are different opportunities for those who want to realize the American dream, right here in Eastern Kentucky," he continued.

It will take around a year and a half to build the around 500,000-panel farm.