SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia is known for its coal to supply energy. But with the industry in decline, could Mountain State solar be the answer? The eastern panhandle may provide a clue.

For a state so committed to fossil fuels might renewable energy be the wave of the future?
John Patterson is an expert on renewable energy. After a biking tour through Shepherdstown he was headed to Capitol Hill to advise a U.S. senator on energy policy.

“This is mining country here is West Virginia,” says Patterson. “You’re used to mining. Coal actually served the country well for a great many years. But there’s a better energy source, the sun. It’s non-polluting and not damaging to the global environment.”

And Shepherdstown is also home to a thriving business in the solar power industry, Solar Holler.

“We have been expanding like crazy,” says Dan Conant with Solar Holler. “Across the state we are hiring like crazy. “Even in the midst of the COVID, even in the midst of bigger economic challenges. We’ve been hiring.”

And Cathy Kunkel, Democratic nominee for Congress in West Virginia’s Second District, which includes Shepherdstown, paid a call on Solar Holler and says “it’s really exciting to see the local businesses like Solar Holler growing and stepping up even in the midst of a pandemic.”

Kunkel is meeting with eastern panhandle voters into the weekend to promote federal policies which address climate change.

Patterson adds that West Virginia has abundant sunshine. By capitalizing on it the possibilities are limitless.