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Eastern Kentucky exploring economic growth with nuclear energy

PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Eastern Kentucky is on the brink of a significant economic transformation as the nuclear energy sector develops, thanks to the Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP) cohort 2, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This initiative is dedicated to fostering substantial economic development in economically distressed regions by harnessing innovative energy technologies.

Project Overview

The project, titled “Coal to Nuclear: Exploring the Economic Potential of Nuclear Energy in Eastern Kentucky,” is spearheaded by Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR), in partnership with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Office of Energy Policy. The goal is to leverage the advanced capabilities of nuclear technology as a catalyst for significant economic growth and job creation.

SOAR is a nonprofit serving the 54 Appalachian Regional Commission counties of Eastern Kentucky. Born from the economic fallout of the coal industry, Shaping Our Appalachian Region’s mission today is to solve the deep-seated issue of population retention and growth in Eastern Kentucky.

“Really excited for this opportunity,” said Colby Hall, SOAR executive director. “SOAR is grateful for our partnership with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Office of Energy Policy and the continuous support we receive from Congressman Hal Rogers and his staff. The commonwealth is making nuclear energy a top energy priority. Over the next decade, Eastern Kentucky, with its history of energy production, is ready to reap the economic benefits through new investments leading to local job creation. This project will be the initial catalyst.”

Future Economic Prosperity

This initiative promises to invigorate the local economy by laying the foundation for high-value job creation in the emerging nuclear energy sector. It also focuses on developing the necessary infrastructure to support this high-tech industry, attracting further investment and stimulating economic growth across the region.

Cohort 2 of the Communities LEAP initiative is set to provide Eastern Kentucky and its peers with up to $18 million worth of technical assistance, empowering underserved communities to reap economic benefits such as job creation, infrastructural improvements, and enhanced local services.

For Eastern Kentucky, this project is a beacon of future prosperity, harnessing the region’s rich energy production history to fuel its economic renaissance.

Communities LEAP Cohort 2 is a Department of Energy program designed to provide technical assistance to communities developing clean energy projects that bring direct economic benefits to areas negatively impacted by the decline of traditional energy industries. NREL, one of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, is focused solely on advancing science and engineering relating to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation

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