I agree with The Herald-Dispatch editorial board that West Virginia lawmakers and officials must prepare for the reality of a post-coal economy. We need to strengthen and diversify our state’s economy to make up for declining coal severance taxes and protect ourselves against the boom-bust price shocks of the oil and gas industry.

One solution is to incentivize renewable energy development in West Virginia.

Investing in renewable energy now will bring thousands of good new jobs to our state, boost entrepreneurship and local business development, and encourage corporate employers to locate and invest here.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two fastest-growing occupations in the United States are solar PV installers and wind turbine technicians. Almost 250,000 American workers are directly employed by the solar industry, and more than 100,000 are employed by the wind industry.

More local jobs, new business growth, and large-scale corporate investment will lead to more tax collection for our local and state governments. It will lead to more dollars reinvested in our communities. And it will ensure that West Virginia is not left behind in our nation’s rapidly changing 21st-century energy economy.

One simple step our elected officials can take to grow the state’s renewable energy sector is to legalize on-site power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy resources.

Commonly used by commercial businesses and tax-exempt institutions like schools, churches and municipalities, on-site PPAs give consumers access to affordable renewable energy with low to zero upfront cost while lowering electric bills from day one. And, crucially for entities like schools, churches, and local governments, PPAs allow a tax-paying private developer to use the 30% federal energy investment tax credit and pass along those savings to the customer in the form of lowered energy costs.

Legal in at least 28 states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Georgia. Let’s join the PPA trend!

Robin Blakeman

Huntington

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