A STEEP Challenge to Go Solar

Oct 21, 2017

The Show and Tell Energy Education Project (STEEP) will install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Judy Bonds Center for Appalachian Preservation in Naoma, WV, publicize the installation, and educate about the viability of clean energy as an affordable and reliable source of energy and employment. By replacing the 9,409 kWh per year of coal-fired electricity with clean solar generation, we will keep over 10,000 pounds of coal in the ground and over 19,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. We will inform people locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally by hosting an open house, hosting journalists, sending press releases, posting on social media, hosting student groups, and speaking about the project at colleges and other speaking venues. With battery backup, we can be a valuable community resource when (not "if") the next disaster knocks out power to the community. The Judy Bonds Center, right across the road from the Naoma post office, can be that community gathering place where residents can charge their phones, check in with loved ones, check emergency updates, have a hot meal, and, if necessary, spend the night in one of our 16 beds.Support the STEEP challenge at http://crmw.net/donate.php

Mountaintop removal is the cradle of the climate crisis, devastating carbon-sink forests while extracting climate-changing coal, as well as a deadly public health threat. However, MTR has recently slipped from public awareness. Highly publicized coal company bankruptcies, premature media declarations of King Coal’s death, and other factors have led to a widespread misconception that MTR is over. The reality, though is that MTR continues, with over 10 square miles of destruction active, permitted, or pending on Coal River Mountain alone, threatening the health of residents and the viability of communities. The coal industry has also popularized the myths that renewable energy does not work and that there are no economic alternatives to coal.

STEEP will reverse this trend of misinformation and ignorance. While we continue to educate the public about the persistent problems of mountaintop removal and coal use, we are adding a focus on the positive solutions available.

For years, we have traveled to speak at colleges and other opportunities to raise awareness. We have also hosted journalists, filmmakers, writers, and student groups to show MTR and related industry activities firsthand. The student groups that we host usually take part in service projects with our Tadpole Project to clean the junk and trash from our river and tributaries.

We began improving the energy efficiency of the Judy Bonds Center in 2015, adding insulation and filling in cracks. In 2017 we replaced the old lighting with efficient LED fixtures.

In an area frequented by natural and industrial disasters, we want to be able to keep operating and serve the public’s needs when disaster strikes. In the heart of "coal country," we can demonstrate that such systems do work, regardless of coal industry claims to the contrary. And there is no more visible location in our community than the Judy Bonds Center, located across the street from the Naoma, WV post office. The sun, not coal, will be keeping our lights on.

Ready for battery backup, the installed price from Solar Holler will be $18,825. With battery backup installed, the price is $26,625. The battery backup is needed to keep operating when the grid goes out. But wait, there’s more. To do the showing and telling—hosting journalists and student groups, providing tours, speaking at events, filming and publicizing the solar power and the nearby coal impacts—the total project budget is $70,000.

The Solutions Project has offered us a $10,000 challenge grant if we can raise the other $60,000 by the end of the year. We have grants pending, but not yet approved. So we need your help to meet this STEEP challenge. If you donate at http://crmw.net/donate.php and write “STEEP” in the note, we will apply it toward the funds needed.

And you’ll be doing a great service to our community, to Appalachia, and to the world.

Thanks for your help.