The Jobs Project

A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia, The Jobs Project is building a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed coal miners and contractors. The 40- by 15-foot solar array is to be set on top of a doctor’s office.

Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project said:

“This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it’s real technology, and they can have it in their communities…In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal. There’s still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy.”

The Jobs Project merged last year with Mountain View Solar & Wind of Berkeley Springs, a solar energy company from the Eastern Panhandle, with the objective to develop a privately bankrolled job-training program. The 12 employed trainees are earning $45 per hour for three days of work, and some local laborers are earning $10 an hour for helping out.

Mountain View owner Mike McKechnie said:

“We are not funded by any state organization. We’re doing this as a business because we want to grow the solar infrastructure and industry…We’re West Virginians, and we think it’s important. There’s a need here that’s not being met…This training model we’re unleashing in Williamson is something we’ve proven…It’s not a pilot project. It’s something we’ve shown works…What we’re doing is giving them a crash course. They get an introduction, and if they want to continue, then that’s who we’ll call in the future…”

If they enjoy the work, they are to follow up with additional training in the Eastern Panhandle “to get them to a certain caliber, and then they’ll continue their training as we start to do work down there…We’re hoping they will go out on their own and find some sales leads and close those sales. We want to develop the entrepreneurial spirit so eventually they can go out on their own…The public wants it and they can’t find it…”

He continued:

“We’re impressed with the focused enthusiasm and boldness of Mountain View Solar and Wind, and its partnership with The Jobs Project to spread the economic activity and financial savings of solar, and we want to do whatever we can to support and enhance the effort…”

Governor Paterson of New York is not Fracking Around Anymore

Gov. David Paterson Environmental groups celebrated when Governor David Paterson directed a seven-month moratorium on natural gas drilling sites in New York; however, environmentalists feel that this still isn’t good enough.

The outgoing governor, a Democrat, vetoed a bill last week which, if passed, would have suspended all new natural-gas drilling permits until the date of May 15 or later. Instead, he issued an executive order prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontally drilled wells.

Also known as fracking, high-volume hydraulic fracturing consists of the blasting of millions of gallons of chemical-laced water, found thousands of feet under the ground, to shatter shale and release natural gas trapped inside.

Medium Fracking oilIn vetoing the Legislature’s oil and gas-drilling moratorium, Paterson said it would have been applied to all low-volume, conventional, vertically drilled wells, and effectually pulling the plug on an industry which has operated safely for decades.

Low-volume fracking on vertical wells uses thousands of gallons of water per well, as opposed to 8 million gallons per horizontal well used in high-volume fracturing.

Governor Paterson’s budget office estimated that this broad a ban would end up with the loss of thousands of industry jobs, cease landowner payments and reduce state and local revenues from permit fees and taxes significantly.

According to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, the Legislature’s moratorium would have threatened the viability of more than 300 producing companies and about 5,000 jobs.

The oil and gas association said the Legislature’s bill would have severed the number of months drilling could take place next year by half, resulting in a net loss of up to $800,000 in real property taxes and $1.4 million in royalty payments.