|RICHMOND, VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced a landmark land development agreement establishing a public-private framework to transform up to 65,000 acres of previously-mined coal properties in Southwest Virginia. This agreement aligns with the Governor’s all-of-the-above Virginia Energy Plan to harness natural gas, nuclear, renewables, and other emerging energy sources to satisfy the increasing energy needs of the Commonwealth, while attracting high-quality jobs to Southwest Virginia communities that have been significantly impacted by the downturn in coal production over the past several decades.
Under this agreement, Energy DELTA Lab, in coordination with Wise County, VA officials and landowner Energy Transfer, will serve as the primary developer partnering with energy companies and electric utilities to deploy a diverse range of conventional and innovative energy technologies on reclaimed coal mine lands as part of this public-private regional economic development campaign. Energy Transfer’s vast land position, which is managed by Penn Virginia Operating Company, is primarily located in Wise County, VA and includes ownership of both surface and subsurface rights.
“The Commonwealth’s power demand is skyrocketing, and now is the time to make strategic investments in energy infrastructure to meet our growing needs,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This agreement will make Virginia energy more reliable, affordable and clean while transforming Southwest Virginia into a hub for innovation.”
Energy DELTA (Discovery, Education, Learning & Technology Accelerator) Lab, formally launched following the release of the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan to diversify Southwest Virginia’s economy, is helping the Commonwealth of Virginia achieve energy security and reliability while accelerating the commercialization and deployment of innovative energy technologies. The team’s strategy involves leveraging Southwest Virginia’s topography and its legacy energy industry assets – land, power and water – to develop energy projects at scale with the primary goal of creating new jobs and local tax revenues in addition to attractive career pathways for the region’s workforce and new manufacturing opportunities. The DELTA Lab’s project portfolio represents the spectrum of technologies and related industrial operations, including solar, wind, hydrogen, energy storage, pumped-storage hydro, energy efficient data centers and other emerging energy technologies. More than a dozen projects under consideration today represent in excess of $8.25 billion in potential private capital investment, 1,650 new high-paying jobs and nearly 1 gigawatt of new power generation and demand. In addition, the DELTA Lab has led federal grant applications in 2023 for nearly $600 million that would support its project portfolio.
The agreement announced today is being celebrated by a broad coalition of public and private stakeholders:
“Virginia is well positioned to develop energy ready sites and compete on a global scale,” said Caren Merrick, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Repurposing former mined lands in Southwest Virginia for development will allow us to create sites where energy demand and generation can co-locate, leading to more opportunities to grow Virginia’s economy.”
“We have worked tirelessly for years to bring economic diversity to Southwest Virginia and were glad to secure funding for both Energy DELTA Lab and abandoned mine reclamation in last year’s government funding bill,” said U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. “We are excited that this agreement between Energy Transfer and Energy DELTA Lab will pave the way for new energy developments on repurposed mined lands, serving as a market-driven solution to ensure Virginia’s energy security.”
“I want to congratulate Energy Transfer, Penn Virginia, Energy DELTA Lab, and Wise County on the landmark agreement announced today,” said Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-9). “This public-private partnership to redevelop 65,000 acres of reclaimed mine land for new energy projects is great news for Southwest Virginia and fits with the concept Congress envisioned when we created the AMLER program. Not only does this project have the potential to bring high-quality energy jobs to the region and boost the local economy, but it will also allow the Commonwealth to become a leader in cutting-edge energy production.”
“Energy DELTA Lab’s approach is quite literally the definition of an all-the-above-approach given coal and gas production is occurring concurrently with clean energy deployment across a vast footprint on Penn Virginia property,” said Delegate Terry Kilgore (1st District), Majority Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, on behalf of the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation. “Innovative energy projects will drive economic development in Southwest Virginia, and our legislative delegation is proud to see the vision for our region realized through this agreement.”
“Coal and natural gas have driven Southwest Virginia’s economy for a century, and there is a growing demand for metallurgical coal, an essential element in steel production,” said Mike Quillen, Chairman of Energy DELTA Lab and former CEO of Alpha Natural Resources. “The coal industry will continue to play its role in energy and the region’s economic activity while providing talent, assets, developable land, power infrastructure and water resources to lead energy diversification through innovation.”
“Private sector leadership from Energy Transfer and Penn Virginia is critical to our long-term development strategy in Southwest Virginia’s coalfields,” said Will Payne, Managing Partner of Coalfield Strategies and advisor to Energy DELTA Lab. “By creating multi-purpose energy ready sites, we are addressing industry demand for co-locating significant power generation assets with robust power users, including data centers.”
“Large portions of Wise County have often been difficult to develop given limited access due to private and federal ownership,” said Mike Hatfield, Wise County Administrator. “This agreement will create game changing opportunities that simply did not exist before.”
Read more about Energy DELTA Lab’s mission and project pipeline here.
About Energy DELTA Lab
Energy DELTA (Discovery, Education, Learning & Technology Accelerator) Lab, or Energy DELTA Lab, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization managing access to more than 65,000 acres of energy ready sites on previously mined properties throughout Virginia’s coalfield region. The DELTA Lab’s purpose is to deploy innovative and clean energy technologies with the ultimate goal of diversifying the region’s economy and providing energy companies speed to market related to testing and project development. Its project portfolio represents the spectrum of technologies and related industrial operations, including solar, wind, hydrogen, energy storage, pumped-storage hydro, energy efficient data centers and other emerging energy technologies. The DELTA Lab is a collaborative effort of energy industry companies and electric utilities as well as business development initiative InvestSWVA, the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority and the Virginia Department of Energy.