SD14 - Reenergize Southwest Final Report (Chapter 554, 2021 SSI)

Executive Summary:

On April 15, 2021, Governor Northam signed HB1899 and SB1252 into law. This legislation repealed the Coal Employment and Production Incentive Tax Credit and the Coalfield Employment Enhancement Tax Credit. Additionally, the legislation tasked the Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) with leading a workgroup to offer recommendations on how the Commonwealth can provide economic transition support to the coalfield region. The legislation directed the workgroup to focus on the following six main topics: workforce redevelopment, economic diversification, reclamation of coal-impacted lands and brownfields, community revitalization, infrastructure improvements and clean energy development.

In addition to Virginia Energy, the workgroup consisted of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP), the Virginia Employment Commission, the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board, and the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice. Virginia Energy also received assistance from the Department of Housing and Community Development, the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission and the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission. In order to receive feedback from the public, Virginia Energy hosted three public listening sessions in Southwest Virginia. These sessions were also livestreamed via WebEx. Archived recordings of the sessions are available on Virginia Energy’s website.

Each listening session featured presentations from speakers related to the focus areas listed in the table on page 2 of the report. Public comment was also received at each session and is summarized in an appendix to this report. Comments have also been received via email, the WebEx chat function during the livestreams, a forum on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, and via U.S. Mail. Virginia Energy received comments through September 30, 2021.