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…”
“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…”