Solar energy on former coal mine property could soon be in Eastern KY

The proposed solar energy plant would be built on former coal mining land outside Pikeville, Kentucky. (COURTESY: Berkeley Energy Group)

Solar energy could soon be coming to Eastern Kentucky. The developers of the project are hoping that it will help diversify the regional economy that has been dependent on the coal industry for many years.

The proposed solar plant would be built on reclaimed coal mine property outside Pikeville, Kentucky. Former Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen and longtime friend Ryan Johns of Berkeley Energy Group of Pikeville envision a solar energy plant that they say would easily be an investment of tens of million of dollars.

"The finished product will produce somewhere between 50 and 100 megawatts of solar power that we can sell on the eastern seaboard," said Edelmen. "We produce energy through coal, natural gas, oil. this is just another opportunity that we have and we should take advantage of that," said Johns.

The pair have partnered with EDF Renewable Energy for the project that is expected to put some displaced miners back to work. Mike Lowe, a former coal miner welcomes the project.

"I think there room for other jobs, or other expansions of other jobs that can be brought into Pike County," said Lowe. "There's land. There's resources. There's networking. There's transportation, so bringing something like this solar project here is not surprising," said Christopher Epling, a Pikeville resident.

The developers hope to start construction sometime next year, but they say it may take a couple of years or longer to finish.

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