For First Time in History, Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs in Virginia

For First Time in History, Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs in Virginia
For First Time in History, Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs in Virginia

I love hearing about the electric car stats in Northern Europe where they can outnumber gas cars. Also the announcement in India where there will only be electric cars sold post 2030. Our world is changing

And we need leadership in the USA that embraces change. Instead our leader is asshat who resists change.

This is a bit misleading. I've done work at power plants, and in talking to employees they all tell me coal plants are being shuttered every few months, and in their place natural gas plants are being built.

Gas produces more energy with fewer employees than coal, and doesn't cause acid rain. The power companies aren't altruistic, they move with the market.

That's the thing. It isn't just that the US is resisting change.

The real damage for the US is that it's abdicating it's position as world leader in so many areas.

Given the amount of money and resources that China (for example) is putting into green tech, the US from now on will be playing catch up.

"There is no money in green tech"--Almost all Republicans.

Republican voters think the only reason democrats push for green energy is because they're trying to steal money. Totally ignore that Republican lawmakers are paid by the oil and coal industry to stop it.

You might be one of the only posters who understands this. Solar doesn't play a role at all in the downturn of coal-fired generation. It's pretty much all natural gas (in Texas and out west wind actually does play a factor too).

This is good news if you're working for O&G companies in WV, Eastern Ohio, and PA, but it's not really a referendum on solar power at all.

WOW, Coal industry says it is ready for it's comeback. It's just a matter of time.

Meanwhile in West Virginia.... (sighs)

Yeah I'm not sure why OP is bringing up Virginia. We have one of the highest concentrations of high tech in the country, and not even a quarter of WV's coal output.

Edit: Somewhat unrelated, but lots of people in this thread are equating "southernness" with poverty and backwardness, i.e. the South can prosper only if it becomes more culturally Northern. I think this is incredibly closed minded. It's possible to have Southern culture and be prosperous at the same time.

Norway is the only country in which the sales of EV are close to the ones of legacy cars and last year that was still only 37%. And even if it was 100% of sales, changing the majority of cars in circulation takes à lot of time.

If the US gave as much as it did for coal and oil subsidies there would be even more money in it.

Yeah this must best some leftist fake news propaganda... our POTUS promised coal miners that they would be going back to work. Donald Sucks!

It's pretty much all natural gas

If you look at statistics of new power generation in the US in recent years the new capacity is split roughly 50/50 between renewables and gas.

Coal is dead, and the market dynamics of the US result in an even split between renewables and natural gas.

Too bad no candidate laid out a plan to retrain coal workers and help transition them into a more viable industry.... or.. wait...

Obama already made pretty much all of those arguments, but then made the mistake of using elitist mustard so it fell on deaf ears

Well considering that Richmond, VA was the capital of the Confederacy, it would be hard to argue that Virginia isn't part of the old south.

I'd argue for a lot of folks the idea that democrats are overly sensationalist idealists who are freaking out about the world (incorrectly in their eyes) and pushing green energy when it's economically damaging to do so.

That's just not the case in any regard.

It was a plan and policy outlined by Hillary Clinton.

Some people still think of it as the old south

Somehow I believe it. Just driving down to Camp Lejeune to visit my step brother in North Carolina we saw tons of solar panels and even some wind turbines that weren't there just may be a couple years ago

I think a lot of American adults, born after we became a superpower, can't comprehend that America could ever lose its status as leader of the free world.

mistake of using elitist mustard

That's the weirdest euphemism for "being black" I've heard in a while.

I'm sure that the workforce would rather work above the ground in the safe field of solar panels or wind turbines than the dangerous mining industry.

And nuclear should definitely be pushed over natural gas. But unfortunately there are a lot of people that don't understand that we need a transition fuel, and natural gas and nuclear are both seen as equally harmful to them.

Spot on.

The US vehicle fleet is about 12 years old on average and takes about 25 years to cycle through. The upside is that hybrids and EVs are starting to get cheap on the used market as well as more common, so proliferation should increase as they're more available to low-income individuals that buy sub-$5k cars and the like.

Yet NoVa is anything but old south culturally.

Very troubling. We must fix this. We gotta get back to the good old days when pollution didn't matter and the government didn't intervene in silly things like cancer from smoking or car crash fatalities. Oh yeah, and when black people knew their place and healthy, young women died in back alley abortions.

Agree that China was always going to take over as the top billing. It's just (to this here Brit) staggering that the US Government is giving up its pre-eminence willingly and so quickly across so many areas (NATO, western leadership, green tech, Paris Accords, Middle Eastern policy).

That slot man - once it's gone, it's gone.

I'd argue the market is actually taking care of the problem quite effectively. Sure, there's no coercion by the federal government, but sustainability makes good economic sense.

Maybe instead of trying to save the planet, try to advocate saving your fellow countrymen (and women) a little money.

Hell, get your jingo on and tell em it's to break off foreign resources.

There's a better argument to be had.

Yes but that is not how it works. You can't just give them another job like that. They have zero training or education for that job. If we were to reschool every miner into solar power workers that would be extremely expensive. Coal miners will loose their jobs and whole towns will go extinct. A horrible but necessary change.

Instead they decided to bite her hand and fall into the abyss. They deserve everything that happens after that.

What they really mean:

"There is no money in green tech for us "

Found the nova kid

He ordered a burger with Dijon mustard and fox news made a giant deal out of it.

The "subsidies" they get are mostly tax deductions for captial investments, which every company that invests in equipment uses, including solar companies.

While it doesn't mean it will come to fruition, she lost their votes because they were simple minded and they heard 'America isn't great? ITS GOTTA BE GREAT AGAIN.'

The fact that she had a plan outloined on her website says a lot, especially considering her opponent had absolutely nothing (and still doesn't, other than a slogan)

What you didn't see were coal miners toiling away in newly deregulated mines making America great or something.

But as battery technology continues to improve, solar one day might be able to replace natural gas.

I'm not disputing your point about coal jobs being replaced by natural gas - and to a lesser degree. That might all be true but it doesn't make the headline misleading. In simple terms, solar jobs outnumber coal jobs.

This isn't aimed at your point but I just want to point out a nice bit of cognitive dissonance or flat-out denial.

Henry Childress with the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance says,

“Coal will produce more jobs I think in the long term. But we’ve had to cut back because everyone feels like it’s not worth it to use coal anymore. And I feel that there will be a time when we will have to turn back to coal to meet the demand.”

The subject matter is great, but gotta' love the "first time in history" headline as if solar has been a viable underdog for decades.

I would love nuclear to be pushed over gas. I just don't think it is politically feasible unfortunately.

I actually work with nuclear power plants as part of my job. I'm in the Emergency Management side of things. I know that with the right precautions a nuclear plant is perfectly safe. I deal with public and political fear (the politicians build up the public's fear) of nuclear power all the time.

We need to educate people on the reality of safe clean nuclear power. Only then will the politicians change their tune.

The "subsidies" they get are mostly tax deductions for captial investments,

Well if we are going to do quotations for subsidies you also should include that they get an energy distribution system already built and invested in that is designed around fossil fuels, a public subsidy paid for long ago that renewable energy sources have not had paid for.

The US was already destined to fall out of first place as China grows back to their relative historical status as a nation. The real problem, from a US perspective, is that it puts us further outside serious collaboration and influence with a much lesser partnership for when they finally come into their own the rest of the way.

Haven't you heard? It's all about those fatcat scientists engaging in a massive worldwide conspiracy so they can keep getting that sweet sweet government grant money.

The maddening thing is that thanks to the anti-nuclear hysteria and fears that nuclear power is not safe, we're stuck using downright ancient reactors that are in fact much less safe than modern designs. New reactor designs are not only vastly more safe than older designs even to the point of being passively safe, but they're also more efficient and so would be cheaper to operate per watt of power produced.

I just drove across the US, LA to Philly, and let me tell you, the country IS changing. This drive changed my life and my outlook on the future of the United States. The southwest has enormous solar farms and more being built as we speak, the Midwest was littered with wind mills, all throughout farming fields to save space, generally, and until you get to WV (at least the foggy mountains we were in) wind and solar were EVERYWHERE. VA, MD, and PA neighborhoods have gotten rather shiny with personal roof panels, and the amount of hybrid or fuel efficient cars vastly outweigh the past, in which Hummers and Suburbans filled every driveway. Sure, 45 "says" coal is coming back and we'll continue to use fossil fuels, but outside of his and the GOP tiny worldview, the country is making their own decisions. This sense of optimism was something I haven't felt in a very long time and despite what he "says," the reality is that we ARE becoming more environmentally conscious, whether or not a few loud coal-loving Americans like it or not. Having not been in many of those states before (NV, UT, CO, KS, MO, KT) I did not expect the amount of green energy I saw, and I immediately changed my views of "those" states. The red ones us liberals like to pretend aren't "really" our country, are becoming more environmentally conscious and eco friendly. People are not their states, and states are often slower than the people. It made me take a step back and realize that change. takes. time. PEOPLE take time. I feel like Americans have this idea of a magic "fix this shit" person, whether Bernie, Trump, or Obama, or some perfect solution to our country's problems, but fail to realize that our collective culture and lifestyle has been moving more and more and more progressive every year and every generation since the constitution was ratified. We should always fight to improve ourselves and our world around us, and should be skeptical of dated norms, but we need to welcome and embrace the slow transition to a sustainable society. 150 years ago, blacks were enslaved. 100 years ago, women were laughed out of voting areas and could only dream of holding office. 60 years ago, gays often refused to come out because of the culture, even in "progressive blue states" and look where we are now? Before I go on, the fight MUST continue and we can never get complacent with the lives we are given. Its not entitlement; striving for a better world is a human trait. Sure- don't get me wrong the world has a long way to go, but I'm happy that the collective mind is improving. Hell, Jimmy Carter was looked at as "crazy" for being ahead of his time in the fight for environmental consciousness, and now the crazy ones are those who don't believe in climate change. Things take time and as a progressive minded person myself, someone who was and is extremely frustrated at the political climate and the direction the election took, seeing the entirety of our country (or at least a really good snapshot) really changed my attitude and I immediately replaced my pessimism with optimism. Our country is changing. Our WORLD is changing. We need to hang in there, keep speaking to others, influencing change, blowing the whistle at the sign of injustice, and breathe easy that we're moving in the right direction. You can't watch water boil, but you can only come back and see the heat you gave it a long time ago had a considerable effect. We can't turn the heat off.

Fellow Potato from Southwest Virginia. Once you get west of Roanoke, cows outnumber people. It's more "Deep South" here than almost anywhere else I've lived

One day. Not right now. Gas is the best and cleaning alternative for right now. Unless we invest in nuclear.

Depends on what part of the state you're in

Just remember, the efficacy of an energy source is better characterized by how much power it generates, not how many people it employs. A factory of people on stationary bikes turning a generator would employ a lot of people for the amount of power it generates. Coal still generates like 25 times as much power in the US as solar.

(that's actually an encouraging stat...I can see solar expanding by a factor of 25 in the near future once solar roofing becomes commonplace)

The subsidy is balancing against the negative externality of gas car pollution that doesn't get paid for.

That's it. Also why people want to remember and return to the 50's when the US was #1.

Europe is also a lot more compact. People drive much further distances in the US much more frequently, making electric cars less practical.

Depends on where you are but the mix is going to be better than 100% gasoline pretty much everywhere.

I have a dream. I'd like to turn my legacy car electric and change the world while I'm at it. This will work damnit.

Well for Exxon Mobil:

Exxon Mobil, paid an effective three-year tax rate of only 14.2 percent. That’s 60 percent below the 35 percent rate that companies are supposed to pay. And over the past two years, Exxon Mobil’s net tax on its $9.9 billion in U.S. pretax profits was a minuscule $39 million, an effective tax rate of only 0.4 percent.

But you're right all big companies are screwing us, because the part I cut from that quote is: Not a single one of the companies paid anything close to the 35 percent statutory tax rate. In fact, the “highest tax” company on our list, Exxon Mobil,...

More context... Between 2008 and 2010, a dozen major US corporations—including General Electric, ExxonMobil, and Verizon—paid a negative tax rate, despite collectively recording $171 billion in pretax US profits, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice.


Installed capacity, right? And if you look at secured generation capacity solar stands at 0.

Solar just can't replace coal, but natural gas can.

Also the announcement in India where there will only be electric cars sold post 2030.

As much as I applaud this, that's not what happened. India's power minister is floating that proposal, it's not law. It may or may not become government policy -- at this point it's too early to tell.

Those subsidies have paid off - solar prices have plummeted.

India has recently cancelled a boat load of coal related projects in exchange for solar, not for subsidies, but because of the current price points.

Hangouts at Tyson's bro

Yeah, I never get this argument. It's not like every American is driving 500 miles daily. 99% of trips is well within the range of electric cars.

The other 1% applies to Norway and Finland too. Distance between extreme points of Norway is almost 1100 miles. Very fucking compact.

Dumb article, Virginia coal industry is almost insignificant compared to West Virginia.

Is that a bad thing?

Depends on what he means by northern Europe. Finland, Sweden and Norway has lower population density than the US.

Yup. Big culture shock coming for a lot of people all over the world as the US slides.

IMO, there is a small window to undo Trump's damage to the US but if the Ds don't take Congress in 2018 and the presidency in 2020 then that chance is gone forever.

They did sort of have a chance there though. They could vote for the hard but real option, or the guy who's promising them a unicorn who farts rainbows.

They decided to throw the country to the wolves for the sake of being told that everything was all right and it's everyone else's fault for 4 more years.

Someone is well ahead of you and already selling the kits.

One has known apocalyptic externalities....

Those numbers feel about right, but remember: generally speaking, more cars are 0-1 years old than any other age, so even if it takes 25 years to cycle through, you get to 50 percent penetration far before the half-way point timewise.

How was Hillary going to solve it? Genuinely curious.

Also I hope you are aware that a promise from a politician does not equal a thing that will actually happen.

They know that the Republicans are in their pockets its just that they don't give a shit

New reactor designs are mindbogglingly safe and cheap compared to the dinosaurs the hysteria is forcing us to be stuck with.

Not just because it was right after the recession, but because two years isn't enough to get a good sense of business operations on the whole.

I'm all for hanging tax dodgers but this article is guilty of cherry picking data

Natural gas also produces far less CO² per kilowatt than coal.

I feel 2008 to 2010 is a bad time range to cite.

Don't forget his communist tan suit and his wife's socialist sleeveless dress. Oh and that one time he put his feet up on his desk.

You will be able to see the mines byproducts in lakes & rivers since the EPA is being gutted and regulations slashed.

Yes, but there are several large densely populated cities in the US. Transitioning them over to all or mostly electric vehicles would still make a big difference.

Virginia now has more jobs in the solar industry than the coal industry. Numbers from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy show a 40% drop in the number of people working in the coal industry over the last five years. Henry Childress with the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance says coal produces more energy with fewer employees.

Last time I saw an article about this their definition of a solar worker was massively inflated compared to what they just considered coal miners. Anyone with a better source?

Almost everyone's is insignificant compared to West Virginia.

It also has a lack of natural resources

You are wrong for the rest too, but this is so glaringly wrong I can't believe you wrote it.

In 2010, China produced over 95% of the world's rare-earth supply, mostly in Inner Mongolia,[3][15]

The only thing where you aren't wrong is their poor demographical outlook. But China is going to become the world leader if the US fuck up (via destructing free trade agreement for exemple)

Just a reminder, the best measure of an energy source is not how many people it employs, but how much energy is created and for what cost. An energy source that requires more employees to generate a given amount of power is WORSE, not better.

73 horsepower?! F'in shoot me. And the kit doesn't come with the batteries? Might as well buy a used Prius.

I grew up in SWVA, it is nothing like rural SC, GA or AL. Even small towns in Giles and Pulaski don't feel as Deep South as rural SC. Neither does rural Tennessee or the parts of WV I've seen (Lewisburg, Beckley, Princeton, etc.).

Rural Appalachia is its own thing, with some significant problems, but it is not culturally part of the Deep South. I have family near Savannah and I'm consistently surprised by how much more South the rural parts are.


Being against green tech is an ideology in certain countries and anything involving politics generally attracts loudmouths.

Why is it that any post involving green tech or clean energy attracts such grating ignorance?

The entire topic of this conversation is coal v solar power.... and i'm not a sporting man but if I were, i'd wager that's why he's fixated on solar.

Uh, no. It just shows that they didn't get the chance really. The development has been slow, since ICE cars have lots of lobbyists and a century of both government and private subsidies giving them a head start.

Subsidies accelerate changes in desired directions. We don't know that the change to electric cars would have never happened, but it certainly would have taken a lot longer without subsidies. The fact remains that subsidizing a technology is the only way it will increase development speed, though, so it's obviously a possibility that the subsidies can be relaxed in the future without ICE cars returning to popularity, since when that happens the technology will have progressed to a point where it can be more competitive.

Saying that they just "can't compete" is an ignorant fallacy.

She absolutelyyyyyy campaigned on it. But its not a simple soundbite so people didnt buy into it because it wasnt what they wanted to hear (they would rather hear that coal was coming back). In fact, she mentioned it at the debates and outlined a detailed profile of her plan. She also mentioned it at every stump speech in coal country. She also had olenty of details about who would be eligible, how it would get paid for, the impact ir would have, how she would bring solar to coal communities... lmao she absolutelyyyyyy campaigned on it. The people stupidly voted for what they wanted to hear not what they needed ro hear.

Can I borrow a coat hanger?

To be fair, I don't care why they're doing a good thing as long as the good thing gets done.

Plug-in hybrids are where it is at for the time being. I have a 2012 Chevy Volt. I plug it in overnight and I wake up with 35 miles of electric range every day. On the odd days that I drive further than that, it switches to a gasoline engine that gets 37 mpg.

So basically, I've replaced 90% of my miles with electric miles, but I don't ever have to worry about running out of juice.

Sadly Republican politicians did such a massive hit job on the Volt when it came out that half the country considers it the Obamamobile.

I love this ingenuous argument.

Subsidies, direct or indirect, are only for the established Military–industrial complex and fossil fuel industry, none of that taxpayer fat for others. They should pick themselves up by their bootstraps!

I love hearing about the electric car stats in Northern Europe where they can outnumber gas cars.

Only because they are very heavily subsidized..

That is the basis of Trump's entire rhetoric on bad deals. He acts like it is still 1992 and the entire world has to listen to what we dictate if they want to participate in international trade. There is little comprehension that we are no longer head and shoulders above all else, just the biggest of many big and attractive partners.

It's truly amazing how many people here aren't aware of the technology that wouldn't have existed without subsidies. Like, you know, the fucking internet.

Because it's a major part of the Western side of the state.

This is one of the reasons why they voted Trump. He was the only one talking to them or thinking about them.

oh if we only had any other way to produce electricity outside of burning stuff.

I'm honestly surprised that politicians who are pro Green tech haven't tried dog whistling that they can "get rid of our dependence on Arab oil and keep the money for ourselves".

To my understanding we're not even that reliant on their oil anymore (thanks offshore drilling and oil sands) but I doubt the people they're trying to sell on green tech know that.

There's plenty of money in it. Largely taxpayer funded subsidies.

Wow, that is a top level cognitive dissonance.

If you're going to make such vague inspecific assertions to convince people, why not include an actual source for whatever you're talking about to make it actually convincing?

Not really. A chinese company offers to retrain them for free.

Trump is an ignorant, outdated idiot steering USA in the past.

Solar just can't replace coal, but natural gas can.

Why are you so oddly focused on solar? Solar is merely one of very many types of renewable power.

Renewable power certainly can replace coal.