When Matt McFadden came of age in southwestern Virginia in the early 2000s, he wasn’t planning on working for a clean energy outfit. He grew up playing in a high school garage band, part of his increasingly Republican county’s small punk scene. But staring out at the photovoltaic panels gleaming atop his daughter’s elementary school in July — an array his company, Secure Solar Futures, installed — he was beaming with pride. In the midst of the Inflation Reduction Act’s rollout, McFadden and coal-rich Wise County have something many politically conservative areas from Texas to Ohio are struggling to create: real, and growing, support for solar.
McFadden and his firm have not accomplished this alone. In 2016, a coalition of businesses, nonprofits, colleges, local governments, and citizens launched the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, which collaborates with Secure Solar Futures. It includes experts in every aspect of the green transition, from community organizers who tell neighbors about the benefits of solar to legal experts who propose legislation. The organization was heav... Read more