CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Campbellsville University, in partnership with Lycan Geological of Williamson, W.Va., has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as one of 22 recipients for grants to help communities develop a local energy action plan creating pathways to reduce air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs, grow the economy and create good-paying jobs.
“This $250,000 technical assistance is funded by the DOE’s ‘Communities LEAP’ pilot program,” said Holly Trowbridge, Campbellsville University’s director of corporate and foundation relations, who said this is a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to help energy-overburdened communities take direct control of their clean energy future.
The collaboration is seeking projects that can lead to new Campbellsville University programs to educate future leaders in the sustainable energy industry.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to perform research and educate our students,” said Dr. Donna Hedgepath, CU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Bringing professionals together with university scientists can uncover new educational opportunities for future generations.”
Geologist Joe Lycan, who has extensive experience in the Appalachian coalfields, is the chief consultant for the project, developing collaborative partners in Logan and Mingo counties in West Virginia.
He credits West Virginia House of Delegates member Margitta Mazzocchi for having been instrumental in helping find the LEAP (local energy action plan) grant. “Delegate Mazzocchi brought this idea forward,” said Lycan. The grant can enable a team of science and community leaders to help the region work toward developing projects in independence and bring new educational opportunities to the region.
The Campbellsville U. grant will provide technical assistance for economic revitalization efforts in southern West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Basin.
“Among the ideas already being considered for research are an opportunity in critical mineral development, microgrid hydroelectric generation and the search for rare earth and critical mineral extraction,” Lycan said.
Rare Earth’s supply chain is responsible for some of the most important materials involved in electric vehicle production, battery making, renewable energy systems and technology manufacturing.
By providing targeted technical assistance, LEAP will open the door for communities to access additional DOE and other federal government funds, along with those included in the $1.3 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Campbellsville and the other 21 selected communities will work with DOE and its network of technical assistance providers to develop roadmaps for clean energy economic development pathways.
“The coalfields of Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky are ripe for investment and growth,” said Dianna Barnett of the Logan County, W.Va. County Commission. “This grant will give us the technology support to demonstrate that resources are here waiting for the right projects to develop.”
Communities LEAP also implements the Administration’s Justice40 commitment, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40% of benefits from certain investments to disadvantaged communities and advances the work of the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, which focuses on delivering federal investment to hard-hit energy communities.
Communities LEAP is supported by six DOE offices: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Electricity, Indian Energy, Policy, and Economic Impact and Diversity. More details can be found at www.energies.gov/communitiesLEAP.
Campbellsville University is a Kentucky-based Christian school with about 12,000 students.
—By Linda Waggener, freelance writer
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