The Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development hosted a workshop yesterday for energy communities in the Ohio Valley region.
The half-day workshop, titled “Federal Resources for Revitalizing Rural Energy Communities in the Ohio Valley,” brought together federal agency officials and local leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities for resiliency and revitalization throughout the region. Federal agencies discussed various funding and resources available to the Ohio Valley, including historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
“There’s a lot of funding available for energy communities right now and we need to get it in front of the people and organizations who can apply for it,” said Energy Communities IWG executive director Brian Anderson, PhD. “The Ohio Valley region has a history of coal mining, and many communities are still reeling from the industry’s economic downfall. Today’s event provided a space to share important resources these communities can use to revitalize their economies and develop a stronger regional workforce.”
The event was hosted in Wheeling, WV, which is listed third on the Energy Communities IWG’s top 25 list of communities in need of priority federal assistance and investment. West Virginia’s northern panhandle has one of the longest coal histories in the region and Wheeling area was economically reliant on the mining industry for decades.
Funding opportunities discussed include mine land reclamation, increased support for local development districts, water resiliency, broadband expansion, clean energy manufacturing, brownfields cleanup, capacity building and technical assistance. Following a panel of federal officials, attendees had the opportunity to engage with them directly during a round-robin session. Officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Economic Development Administration were also in attendance and spoke with attendees.
“I want to thank our hosts Bel-O-Mar Regional Council, West Virginia Northern Community College, and West Virginia Regional Economic Development Partnership for helping us put on this important event. Building relationships with local organizations is a key pillar of the IWG’s work and we look forward to continue engaging with these organizations and the Ohio Valley region,” said Anderson.
Established by an Executive Order during President Biden’s first week in office, the IWG is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to create good-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, remediate environmental degradation and support energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country. The IWG supports the Administration’s goals of a carbon emission-free electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.