Sign of the times? Solar panels power Kentucky Coal Museum

By Adam Beam, Associated Press

Don't look to the Kentucky Coal Museum to bring coal back.

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Don't look to the Kentucky Coal Museum to bring coal back.

The museum is installing solar panels on its roof, part of a project aimed at lowering the energy costs of one of the city's largest electric customers. It's also a symbol of the state's efforts to move away from coal as its primary energy source as more coal-fired power plants are replaced by natural gas. The state legislature recently lifted its decades-old ban on nuclear power.

"It's a little ironic or coincidental that you are putting solar green energy on a coal museum," said Roger Noe, a former state representative who sponsored the legislation that created the coal museum. "Coal comes from nature, the sun rays come from nature so it all works out to be a positive thing."

The museum is in Benham, once a coal camp town whose population peaked at about 3,000, according to 85-year-old Mayor Wanda Humphrey. Today, it has about 500 people, and Humphrey says she is the mayor because no one else wants the job.

"It takes our entire police force — we have one person, we have Ryan — to get me in the building and back out," she said.

The town's second building was a company commissary known as the "big store," where Humphrey would visit every day after school to order an RC Cola and a bag of peanuts, charged to her father's account. Today, that building houses the Kentucky Coal Museum, which opened in 1994 with the help of some state funding. The museum houses relics from the state's coal mining past, including some items from the personal collection of "Coal Miner's Daughter" country singer Loretta Lynn.

It's also the best place in town to get the most direct sunlight, which made it an ideal location for solar panels.

"The people here are sort of in awe of this solar thing," Humphrey said.

The Southeast Community and Technical College, which owns the museum, expects the solar panels to save between $8,000 and $10,000 a year on energy costs, according to spokesman Brandon Robinson.

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

Shell Leverages Data to Transform from Reactive to Predictive Operations

This 6-page report describes how Shell engaged in a massive project with OSIsoft to transform the...

Selection, Use, Care and Maintenance of FR Clothing

For industries operating in an inherently dangerous environment, the importance of selecting the ...

Evolution or Revolution: IT / OT convergence means a world of possibilities

The oil and gas industry is experiencing a rapid paradigm shift in regards to digital transformat...

Predict, Prescribe, Profit: Creating a World that Doesn't Break Down

What are you doing to reduce unplanned downtime at your plant? Equipment breakdowns and process i...

Latest PennEnergy Jobs

PennEnergy Oil & Gas Jobs