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    Colorado company explores Raleigh County for solar farm


    November 16, 2021 - Jessica Farrish, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

     

      Nov. 16—A Colorado company has signed an option agreement with Beaver Coal Co., Ltd., to explore Raleigh County as a site for a new solar farm, Beaver Coal General Manager Joe Bevil confirmed Monday.

      Bear Peak Power is a Denver. Co., company that develops distributed generation, utility-scale, and commercial and industrial solar projects throughout the United States, according to the company's website.

      "We have signed an option agreement with Bear Peak Power out of Colorado, and they're doing their due diligence to see if it would be something that might work out for the benefit of both of us," Bevil reported Monday.

      Beaver Coal is the largest land owner in Raleigh County.

      Bevil declined to offer financial details. He said that, if Bear Peak decides to build the solar farm in Raleigh County, construction will likely not start for at least two years.

      The lot is 200 acres of "very flat land" in the area of Sullivan's Farm Road, just off of the Interstate. The land was once known as "Sullivan's Strip" and was mined by Vecellio and Grogran in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bevil said.

      "Although it's close to the interstate, you really can't see it," he reported, adding that it is above the interstate and that there is no viable access for large commercial vehicles to the site.

      A power line is close to the site, so Bear Peak could strike an agreement with Appalachian Power for service.

      Bevil emphasized that the project is in the very beginning stage. Beaver Coal and Bear Peak have signed an agreement that the property will not be used for any other purpose.

      Under the agreement, Bear Peak will decide whether to erect a solar farm on the acreage.

      The company is poised to establish the second solar project in Raleigh County.

      The Italian company Enrel Green Power in July bought 100 percent ownership of a 90-megawatt solar farm at Grandview, which was formerly owned by Dakota Renewable Energy. Company officials had estimated the project to be $90 million in 2020.

      Raleigh Zoning Commission had approved construction of the solar farm, which is set to be 250,000 solar panels spread on 530 acres at Grandview, at the request of Raleigh Solar LLC, a subsidiary of the Colorado-based Dakota Renewable Energy in 2020.

      At the time, Bevil had joined Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce CEO Michelle Rotellini in welcoming solar energy into southern West Virginia, a coal mining region.

      He said Monday that outside companies often look for renewable energy resources when deciding whether to relocate to a region.

      "It's a new company coming in, plus it gives Raleigh County the ability to produce some renewable energy, which other, outside companies look for in their relocation process," Bevil noted. "When some of these tech industries look for places to potentially locate, one fo the things on their line items is how much renewable energy is there.

      "Until the Grandview project gets going and, potentially, this (Bear Peak), I don't know of any renewable energy in Raleigh County."

      Raleigh County is mountainous, and solar farms require flat land.

      ___

      (c)2021 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.)

      Visit The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.) at www.register-herald.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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