Solar Workgroup

May 9th Solar Fair at UVa of Wise

About the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia

We are a group of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. The workgroup is co-convened by the UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc. and Appalachian Voiceswith facilitation assistance from Dialogue + Design Associates.

Read more about the Solar Workgroup background and progress here, and check out our timeline and accomplishments infographic here.

Important Updates

  • The Solar Workgroup is launching its 2020 Residential Solarize Program. Sign-up here! Email Austin Counts at for more information.
  • Save the date for our next Solar Workgroup meeting: February 3 at the Oxbow Center in St. Paul. More details to follow!
    Solar Workgroup partner Ted Redmond of paleBLUEdot.
  • Eight of our communities were designated as SolSmart communities in July 2019!
  • We are working to build the projects included in our second Commercial-Scale Solar RFP. Congratulations to Sigora Solar for winning the bid. Click here for more details.
  • Click here to read the GO Virginia and ARC POWER April 2019 grant proposal executive summaries that the Solar Workgroup submitted. We were awarded the ARC POWER grant in October 2019 and the GO Virginia grant in June 2019.
  • In 2018, the NCi team was selected as the contractor by the Solar RFP Selection Team for six commercial-scale solar RFP sites in SWVA (the NCi team includes Northeast Construction, Acorn Electrical, and RockBridge Energy). 

  • Please check out and “like” the Solar Workgroup Facebook page!

    • In Nov. of 2017, the Workgroup released a report called Solar Roadmap of Southwest Virginia detailing a multi-faceted strategy for establishing a vibrant solar energy hub in the coalfields of far Southwest Virginia. The report explores the issues of funding, policies, workforce training and education as they relate to solar advancement in the region, and identifies 15 sites that would be ideal models for solar installations.
    • The Economic Analysis, Site Assessment and Profiles are complete! Downstream Strategies, working with project partners, completed the site analysis and profiles of the potential solar site candidates, along with an economic analysis for solar development in Southwest Virginia.  Click on the first thumbnail to view the Economic Analysis and the second thumbnail to view the site profiles.
    • The team received some excellent proposals, and after receiving feedback from project partners, Sigora Solar was selected as the Solarize contractor. More information will be shared at the upcoming Solarize community meetings (see below)
  • Thanks to all of you for coming to the Solar Fair in May of 2017! You can read more about it here, or see more photos here.

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Meeting Summaries

Supplemental Meeting Documents

 Solar Workgroup background

The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia is a group of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, planning district commissions, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia.

This workgroup grew out of the Economic Forum held at University of Virginia’s College at Wise on May 12, 2016. UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc. and Appalachian Voices are co-convening this stakeholder process, which is facilitated by Dialogue + Design Associates, with solar development research and education provided by Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy.

The economic benefits of a renewable energy industry in Southwest Virginia could be significant, especially if it grows to include all aspects of the solar value-chain, from manufacturing to engineering to installation. Regional electricity demand is expected to grow over the next 8 years and the types of businesses being recruited to the area will rely on abundant, redundant, and renewable energy. Fulfilling a part of that demand growth with locally generated renewable energy would provide an economic boon and a powerful leverage point for scaling up a diverse regional renewable energy industry sector.

A recent economic impact analysis conducted by AIRE showed that developing just 26 megawatts of solar in Southwest Virginia could:

  • Create more than 300 construction jobs and 127 maintenance job-years;
  • Generate over $40 million in local economic activity and pay living wages;
  • Represent almost $50 million in private sector investment; and,
  • Generate over $80 million of valuable renewable energy.

We conducted a stakeholder process to jointly and collaboratively create a roadmap for renewable energy economic development in Southwest Virginia’s coal mining region. The roadmap identified opportunities for specific renewable energy projects across the region, as well as workforce development needs, supply chain gaps and local business opportunities. It also identified project capital networks and lay out strategies to generate project capital. We are now working together to implement the recommendations and strategies of the roadmap for years into the future.

Participation in the Solar Workgroup is open to all interested parties. To learn more, contact Adam Wells at Appalachian Voices: