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May 29, 2018

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- Plans to put the largest solar farm ever built in Kentucky on top of a surface-mined mountain are in limbo because Kentucky Fuel, a coal company years behind in the cleanup that must come first, is dragging its feet.

The $150 million project was proposed a year ago, and would be located on Bent Mountain in Pike County in the easternmost part of the state, James Bruggers reports for Inside Climate News.

"If Kentucky Fuel would do what they said they would do there wouldn't be a problem," Ryan Johns told Bruggers. Johns is one of the farm's developers and the vice president of Ross Harris Group, which comprises more than 30 companies that focus on coal, oil, gas, timber and real estate. "If Kentucky Fuel would do what they said they would do there wouldn't be a problem," Ryan Johns told Bruggers. Johns is one of the farm's developers and the vice president of Ross Harris Group, which comprises more than 30 companies that focus on coal, oil, gas, timber and real estate.

If the project is not ready to go in 2019 or 2020, the federal tax breaks for renewable energy projects begin to decrease, making it less economically feasible.

"If Kentucky Fuel would do what they said they would do there wouldn't be a problem," Ryan Johns told Bruggers. Johns is one of the farm's developers and the vice president of Ross Harris Group, which comprises more than 30 companies that focus on coal, oil, gas, timber and real estate.

{Johns is the son of Barry and Gloria Johns of Robinson Creek and the grandson of former Pike PVA and Schools Supt. Reo Johns.}

"Four years ago, settling one of the largest enforcement actions in Kentucky's recent history, the coal company's owners promised state officials that they would compete a tangle of reclamation work spread over several counties by September 2015," reports Bruggers, former environmental reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal. "But the case has dragged on in court. It's a fight that involves one of the most powerful families in the region, headed by Jim Justice, the billionaire coal baron who is now governor of West Virginia."

The cost of reclaiming a poorly reclaimed mine site is often subsidized by extra coal mined during the reclamation, and "Kentucky Fuel wants more mining to help pay for the work," Bruggers reports. "But it is not clear whether valid leases are in place for that approach. That, too, may have to be sorted out; if not, the state could issue a permit for reclamation only, but the work would be more expensive. It's unclear whether the costs of additional reclamation, and the possibility of paying for it with more mining, would materially affect the solar farm's construction costs."

Written by Heather Chapman Posted at 5/29/2018 

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0 #1 NOT 2018-05-31 17:50
If the Justice's are involved: Nope: Not Today
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