Check out this Solutions article by Sara Pennington and Randy Wilson about a plan called Renew East Kentucky that would create thousands of jobs and help the Appalachian region transition to a more diverse economy.
Renew East Kentucky would be a five-year energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative to retool and expand the local workforce, build up local initiatives already in place, and more aggressively implement solutions to address the region’s infrastructure and economic challenges.
Why does Wilson think Renew East Kentucky is a good idea? “We need options in energy, and we need options in work,” he said.
Wilson is doing an oral history project in coal-producing communities, and he’s finding that lots of folks are ready for change. Like John Craft, who mined coal in Eastern Kentucky for 20 years. As the article describes, Craft sees coal production declining and envisions a sustainable economy built on clean energy like wind, solar and micro-hydro.
Renew East Kentucky is a chance to use the infrastructure we already have – rural electric cooperatives – to transition to a clean energy economy and create thousands of new jobs. Because the co-ops are member-run, real people at the local level would lead this transition and the new jobs would be the kind we need – clean and sustainable.
“The word is power,” Wilson said. “Giving people power to make choices.”