Coal country goes renewable with microgrid project at industrial site

Sept. 16, 2022
BHE Renewables will develop a renewable energy microgrid-powered industrial site on 2,000 acres in coal country — West Virginia.

West Virginia, one of the largest coal-producing states in the US, is going green with a microgrid-powered industrial site that will use renewable energy.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) Renewables has been granted approval from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority to purchase 2,000 acres of land in Ravenswood to develop the industrial site that will be powered by a solar energy microgrid. According to Gov. Jim Justice, the $500 million investment promises to “help lead the way into a new era of renewable energy microgrid-powered manufacturing.”

It’s also expected to transform Ravenswood’s economy and provide hundreds of good paying jobs.

Renewable energy projects bring new jobs to struggling communities

The West Virginia economy has long been dependent on coal mining. While the state still ships significant amounts of coal to other states, declining production levels as well as safety and environmental concerns have caused significant job loss.

“This project demonstrates how investing in clean energy can revive economies that have served our country’s energy needs for decades,” BHE Renewables President and CEO Alicia Knapp said.

New legislation also announced

Both houses of the West Virginia legislature voted earlier this month to create a certified industrial business expansion development program that will work to attract renewable energy businesses to the state. The program will be housed within the state’s Department of Economic Development.

The BHE Renewables project is the first of what is hoped to be many projects authorized.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, “This unprecedented project has the potential to rapidly transform the Ravenswood area and spark the economic development our communities need to grow and thrive.”

Aerospace manufacturer to be first business on site

Precision Castparts (PCC), a company that manufactures metal components for the aerospace industry, will be the first company to call the industrial site home. PCC, which was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2016, plans to build a state-of-the-art titanium melt facility on the site that will be powered completely by renewable energy.

“Manufacturing our products with 100% renewable energy benefits PCC and our customers as we strive to minimize the impact of our operations and wisely use natural resources,” said PCC Metals President Steve Wright.

Ravenswood, which is located along the Ohio River, is a prime manufacturing location, according to the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. The organization will work with BHE Renewables to attract other businesses to the site to take advantage of the renewable energy infrastructure.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “I’m excited by Berkshire Hathaway’s decision to invest in the Mountain State and look forward to seeing the benefits of this investment – including long-term, good paying jobs and supporting our regional economies – for years to come.”

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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