According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 78,000 people were employed in the coal mining industry in the United States in April 2013. The coal mining industry employed approximately 53,000 employees in April 2018. The job losses in the coal mining industry are due to improved automation and declining demand for coal in the United States and overseas.
Major coal mining states, like Kentucky, West Virginia and Wyoming have struggled with declining tax revenues from coal mines and job losses. Many local governments in coal mining states have provided generous tax subsidies to attract new industries. The tax subsidies coupled with the highly skilled coal miners have drawn renewable energy companies to Kentucky and Wyoming.
EnerBlü Inc. has announced plans to build research and manufacturing facilities in Pikeville, Kentucky. The company intends to hire 875 engineers and technician at the new facilities in eastern Kentucky. EnerBlü develops energy storage solutions to industrial, automotive and defense industries and is headquartered in Riverside, California. Bit Source has already hired nine former coal miners in Pikeville, Kentucky. Bit Source is a software and website development company.
Goldwind Americas is offering free wind technician training courses to laid-off coal miners in Wyoming. The company anticipates manufacturing 850 large, onshore wind turbines to power companies in Wyoming. Goldwind is a global manufacturer of onshore and offshore wind turbines and is headquartered in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China.
Solar Holler has hired 30 people since it was founded by Dan Conant in 2014. Many of the company’s employees are former coal miners. Solar Holler is a full service solar developer and installers, headquartered in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Change is seldom easy, especially for people who have spent decades working in the coal mines. However, jobs in the renewable energy industry are offering hope to the laid-off coal miners. In my opinion, the number of jobs in coal mines will continue to decline due to declining global demand for coal and concern over greenhouse gas from fossil fuels.