In December 2021, the Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) released their final Reenergize Southwest report. The report was developed as a result of legislation signed by the Governor that tasked Virginia Energy with forming a workgroup to look at diversifying the economy in Southwest Virginia, particularly as the region transitions away from coal production. The six topics the workgroup focused on included: workforce redevelopment, economic diversification, reclamation of coal-impacted lands and brownfields, community revitalization, infrastructure improvements, and clean energy development. Virginia Energy led a coalition of several other state organizations to conduct listening sessions, hear public comments, and produce a report with recommendations.
The Reenergize Southwest report examines different ways to support Southwest Virginia as the coal industry declines and outlined four recommendations:
Ensure the coalfield region has access to funding for site development through the Commonwealth’s site development fund
Expand existing solar energy programs, ensuring low to moderate income residents across the Commonwealth can participate in the clean energy transition
Support the growth of higher education in the coalfield region and enhance the quality of life for student populations in surrounding communities
Establish an inter-agency task force that seeks stakeholder input to address the revitalization of Southwest Virginia.
Virginia Energy plans to continue work on these issues and will engage with stakeholders to support economic development in the Southwest region. For more information, review the final report here.