top of page

MCRA: Solar pilot project proposed at industrial park

Bruce Justice (Mingo Messenger) Aug 26, 2022

Provided a few details can be worked out in the coming days, the James Harless Industrial Park could become the site of an innovative solar pilot project. Both the project and the details surrounding it were discussed at the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority’s Aug. 18 meeting. MCRA Executive Director Leasha Johnson said Congress is making projects like these more feasible because of greater funding opportunities having resulted from the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act. “(The Inflation Reduction Act) has created some unique opportunities for coal-impacted communities because, much like the funding opportunities that came out of the American Rescue Plan (Act), many of these are also focused on coal communities,” she said. Much in the same manner of funding having been made available through the ARPA, Johnson said the IRA’s goal is to provide funding into these affected communities as a means to revitalize economies and increase job opportunities. She said the pilot solar project would specifically be built by Huntington-based Solar Holler on the roof of the largest of the wood products buildings and would consist of an array of solar panels that, when completed, will create what Solar Holler CEO, Dan Conant, refers to as a “mini power plant.” “Dan has grown that company to around 80 employees, and they mostly have done small solar installations, such as the one for us at Blue Acre (the Blue Acre Aquaponics facility at Kermit), with subsidies and tax credits that over the last 10 years have helped to accelerate these small projects,” she said. “But now with the IRA, there are even more opportunities with these tax credits for projects like these in coal-impacted communities.” Because Coal Mac is currently leasing that particular building, Board Chairman Paul Pinson asked if this could hinder the project. Johnson said the MCRA would first need to get that company’s consent to begin the project, but she didn’t foresee it becoming a nonnegotiable roadblock. “I really don’t think there would be a problem with Coal Mac because Solar Holler will be willing to assume any liability of any roof damage,” Johnson said. “They are willing to own, operate, finance and construct the project.” Johnson said all the electricity generated from the solar panels will go directly to the grid and not be used by Coal Mac, currently the wood products building complex’s lone lessee. She said the MCRA will receive a still to be determined percentage of the gross revenue gained through the sale of the electricity to the grid, as well as from any future solar tax and energy market credits that may be attained. An added bonus of the project, she said, is Mingo County would be recognized for doing its part in generating a recognizable amount of renewable energy. “Just today Dan received from his attorney the first draft of the transaction document, so it would be a lease option and then it would be a lease agreement,” she said. “What he is proposing to do just at the 100,000 square foot building would generate about $9,000 a year for the Redevelopment Authority, and that’s based upon what he calls a ’10 percent sunshine royalty.’” Should the MCRA and Coal Mac agree to the proposed project, Johnson said, Conant would then ask for a $5,000 non-refundable lease option for three years so that engineering assessments of the roof can be made to determine if its structural integrity will allow the project to be undertaken there.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page