Kentucky Coal Museum Going Solar

Renewable power has a lot of things going for it, like saving money and even saving the planet. Now, add irony to the list.

In early April, an unlikely advocate of solar power announced a new rooftop solar installation in the state of Kentucky.

The Kentucky Coal Museum, which is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC), will soon be powered almost completely by, you guessed it, the sun. The museum is dedicated to educating its visitors about the history of one of the state’s biggest industries, coal mining.

Apparently, even a rich history of coal cannot counter a whopping electricity bill. According to the museum, its electricity costs average around $2,100 each month. It hopes that the solar panels will provide some relief.

The project is being funded by an anonymous outside foundation. It was launched by the Benham Power Board, a local municipal utility in the city Benham, where the museum is located. Other stakeholders include the Harlan County Fiscal Court, the City of Benham, the Benham School House Inn and the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

Bluegrass Solar based in Whitesburg, Ky. is working in conjunction with Star Solar in Indiana. The installation is already underway.

The entire project, including two other planned solar sites, is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000 and will be funded by different philanthropic sources. Around 80 solar panels will be installed on the roof of the building. More than half are already in place.

SKCTC officials expect the project to save the college between $8,000 and $10,000 a year in energy costs. Those savings will be in the form of bill credits, given by the power board.

College officials also hope that this project will eventually lead to educational training opportunities, where students could train on how to install, repair and maintain solar panels.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer
Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelancer writer. He has a passion for renewable power. He may be reached at .

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