Appalachia has long been coal country. But as the U.S. transitions to other sources of energy, coal production in the region has fallen by more than half. Many coal towns are facing an economic downturn.
But a recent report shows that rural communities in Appalachia could benefit the most from wind and solar development.
“It’s the ideal space for these economic benefits to really liven these communities again,” says Gabriella Tosado of the research nonprofit RMI.
Her group analyzed how rural communities in various regions could benefit if the U.S. triples its solar and wind energy capacity by 2030.
The group looked at expected local tax revenues, land lease payments, and employee wages generated by new solar and wind projects over time.
“And altogether, the lifetime impact of the potential in Appalachia is about $65 billion in direct economic benefits,” Tosado says.
Beyond that, local bars, stores, and manufacturers could see a boost.
Tosado says getting there will take policy support for wind and solar, and worker training.
“So there is a lot of industry that needs to be built to receive these benefits,” she says. “But it has just this waterfall effect for rural communities.”
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media