Story by Mike Nolting, WAJR-AM
FORT MARTIN, W.Va. – The 90-acre Mon Power solar power facility in Monongalia County is substantially complete and preparing to go online by the end of this year.
Mon Power spokesperson Hannah Catlett said this facility, located at Fort Martin, has 50,000 solar panels that will generate 18.9 mega watts and is the largest of five planned facilities by the utility.
“It is the first of five planned utility-grade, utility-run fields that we have in the works,” Catlett said.
A growing wave of global sustainability and concerns about climate change have pushed many companies into climate action. Sites that offer renewable energy options entice companies based on their ability to pursue carbon reduction goals, Catlett said.
“A lot of companies now require a certain portion of their energy to come from renewable sources,” she said. “By providing this option, First Energy is giving those companies another reason to come to West Virginia.”
At the Fort Martin jobsite there are more than 100 union workers from the area building the project. Solar panels and components for this project are not sourced from China like many other projects in the United States.
“We’re trying to stick to local people to build these sites and then the materials are actually sourced in the United States for the solar panels and racking systems,” Catlett said. “We’re really trying to make this something that positively impacts the local communities.”
Two additional sites have been approved by the Public Service Commission but construction has not commenced. In Rivesville, construction hasn’t yet started on a 27-acre site on a former ash disposal site with a capacity of 5.5 mw. There’s also av26-acre reclaimed ash disposal site in Berkeley County with a capacity of 5.8 mw pending.
Sites not yet approved include a 51-acre site in Hancock County and a 44-acre reclaimed strip mine property in Tucker County.
Catlett said the company is urging customers to participate in the solar renewable energy credits (SREC) program. SREC is like a voucher that proves solar power was produced in exchange for the purchase. Participation in the program allows customers to purchase renewable energy from the grid without having to install solar panels on your home or business.
“We want people to subscribe to support the generation that’s going to happen there before we ask for final approval to build the sites,” Catlett said.