The decline of coal power across the U.S. has left some communities understandably worried. Mines and power plants have been the backbone of local economies, and with their closure comes the loss of thousands of jobs.
New federal funding released this week hopes clean energy can change that fate. The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday released $275 million for seven projects in nine former coal communities, each focused on manufacturing products needed for the clean energy transition. That includes a wind turbine factory in Vernon, Texas, and a battery component maker in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Meanwhile, some shuttered coal plants and former minelands will stay in the electricity business. Fossil fuel infrastructure can leave the land it once occupied polluted and inhospitable for residential or other development. But brownfields and former minelands can still host solar arrays, with the added benefit of not needing to disrupt farmland and forests, States Newsroom reports. And former coal plants come with transmission infrastructure, making it easier for new renewables to plug into the power grid.
So far, coal plants in Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado and beyond are among those slated for a new life hosting renewables. And the Biden administration wants to make these kinds of projects even easier, proposing earlier this month to ease environmental reviews for solar, energy storage and other renewable construction on already disturbed federal land.