Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

September 26, 2013

Solar fields proposed for 2 W.Va. counties

CHARLESTON — A New York-based company plans to build three solar-energy fields in Fayette and Greenbrier counties that would generate up to 35 megawatts of electricity.

The $140 million project from Solar Thin Films Inc. could create West Virginia’s first utility-scale solar electrical generation capacity.

Solar Thin Films expects to install the energy fields at sites in Alderson, Crawley and Fayetteville before the end of the year. All three sites are expected to be finished within 18 months.

“We think it’s a great project,” Solar Thin CEO James Solano told the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/183gP0H) . “We think it will really benefit West Virginia.”

The company said in late July that it reached an “agreement in principle” with a local landowner to design and build the $140 million project. The company then said it had signed a contract on Sept. 13 for the solar fields.

“This is news to us,” said Jeff Herholdt, director of the state’s Division of Energy.

West Virginia does not have any utility-scale solar generation facilities, he said.

“This would be an amazing energy development for West Virginia,” Herholdt told the newspaper.

Solano said the company is still trying to obtain agreements for local utilities to purchase electricity generated by the solar fields.

Landowners have asked the company about at least six other potential sites in West Virginia since the project initially was announced, Solano said.

“There is actually quite a bit of response to putting up more solar,” Solano said. “Coal’s going by the wayside. This is a really great project. We’re excited about getting it done.”

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