Kilgore praises bill that could bring more renewable energy to SW Va.

Nick Shepherd • Jan 28, 2017 at 1:43 PM

GATE CITY — Renewable energy sources like wind and solar could soon fill the void left by the downfall of coal after a bill filed by Delegate Terry Kilgore passed the Virginia House of Delegates this week.

House Bill 1760 deals with the costs of pumped hydroelectricity and storage facilities that are located in the coalfield region of the commonwealth. It essentially authorizes the building of pumped hydroelectricity and storage facilities and deems a power station in the public interest.

It passed on a 98-1 vote on Monday.

“I am happy to see this important bill pass the House chamber today,” Kilgore, R-Gate City, said. “It is imperative that we seek every opportunity to grow our economy and create jobs in Southwest Virginia, and House Bill 1760 is a great step forward in the right direction.”

A hydroelectricity storage facility uses water to generate electricity when demand is high.

The legislation would encourage investor-owned incumbent electric utilities to pursue building the facilities. It would also allow those companies to recoup some of the costs by petitioning the State Corporation Commission for approval of a rate adjustment clause.

In order to obtain the rate adjustment, facilities would need to have one or more pumped hydroelectricity generation and storage facilities that utilize renewable energy as all or a portion of their power source. This could help spur the creation of renewable energy sources in the commonwealth.

If constructed, a hydro facility could create hundreds of temporary construction jobs for approximately three to five years and employee full-time station employees.

Kilgore said it would be an economic driver in the region.

“Our region has experienced significant challenges over the last several years with the downturn of the coal industry,” said Delegate Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon. “As the chief co-patron of this bill, I am hopeful for the opportunities this could bring to Southwest Virginia. The potential for new revenue and jobs associated with bringing pumped hydroelectricity generation and storage facilities to the coalfields would bring a much needed investment in our communities.”

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