U.S. Secretary of Energy has positive vision of West Virginia's future – WV News

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Updated: September 21, 2021 @ 10:13 am

As bleak as the coal industry has been recently, the U.S. Secretary of Energy seems very upbeat about West Virginia’s future. Speaking at a virtual forum recently, Secretary Jennifer Granholm said, “West Virginia did power the country for the past 100 years and we want West Virginia to power the country for the next 100 years, too, but using clean energy.”
In switching to “Energy 2.0,” Granholm said the state can be “the hub for deploying new technologies” by decarbonating fossil fuels and focusing on clean-energy technology that will create jobs and keep young people in the state.
Granholm claims that when she was governor of Michigan and the auto industry collapsed during the 2008 recession, she helped the industry shift toward electric cars. She said the change helped revitalize her state’s economy.
“We started creating jobs again built on our existing supply chain and matching the same skills that the auto workers already had,” she said. “So I accepted this job as energy secretary on the condition that we do everything in our power to create new opportunities for every worker.”
Since becoming energy secretary, Granholm said the Biden administration has sought to rejuvenate coal communities in Appalachia. She pointed to a $7 million grant to WVU for geothermal research.
Additional money has been awarded for low-carbon power plant research.
She said West Virginia is a good investment.
“In total, we have more than $127 million in active projects in West Virginia,” she said. “We are betting on this state because we know it’s a good investment and we want West Virginians to see that a clean-energy future pays dividends.”
Granholm said the bipartisan infrastructure bill — if passed by the House — will “kick all these efforts into high gear,” including large investments in clean energy transmission and upgrading the power grid.
The forum was co-sponsored by the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. While that is a mouthful, its goal is simple: to ensure a shift to clean energy by creating jobs and supporting workers in coal, oil and gas industries across the country.
She said the government has already pledged millions of dollars for infrastructure, union job creation and community revitalization.
As the energy landscape begins to change, West Virginia has to be a major player. It has the resources and the workforce in place to help in creating new technologies and preserving the energy sector as a vital part of our state’s economy.
Granholm seems to be optimistic about West Virginia’s future in reshaping our energy industry. Let’s hope the administration keeps its foot on the pedal and that our state leaders take advantage of every opportunity to put people back to work.
Yes, West Virginia has indeed powered the nation for the past century and there is no reason we can’t continue to do so for the next century.

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