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Heartland’s “Sustainable Finance Hub” Showcased at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum

Tom Croft, Heartland

On September 22, 2022, the Heartland Network showcased a long-term plan to revitalize the “Appalachian Heartland” at the Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF), a joint convening of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial and the 7th Mission Innovation ministerial. With our friends from the Marshall Plan for Middle America (MP4MA) Coalition, Heartland welcomed the GCEAF to the “Paris of Appalachia.”

The GCEAF aimed to accelerate clean energy innovation and catalyze deployment for the global energy transition. The three-day event drew 7,000 participants from 31 countries and featured hundreds of breakthrough energy and science events.

Heartland hosted an important side event focused on “Appalachia’s Sustainable Finance Hub.” Our panel, one of 100 chosen out of 600 candidates, focused on reimagining Appalachia as a driver of renewable energy, electric transportation, and as a global leader in the pivot to a clean manufacturing.

David Wilhelm, CEO of Hecate Energy Global, (pictured above, right) delivered a terrific, heartfelt presentation that keyed in on his long-term campaign to build a solar manufacturing platform in Appalachia. His video is here.

Joining David was Amanda Woodrum, Senior Researcher, Policy Matters Ohio,(pictured above, left)and Co-chair of Reimagine Appalachia (RA); Oliver Kroner, Interim Director of the Office of Environment & Sustainability at City of Cincinnati; and Ed Hill, Jr., International Representative, IBEW.

Amanda spoke to how the Roadmap for the Marshall Plan for Middle America (MP4MA), comprised of mayors and cities across five states, was created. She addressed how RA is meeting the challenge to “level up” left-behind communities in the Upper Appalachian region in the transition to a decarbonized economy. Oliver and David described building the soon-to-be realized Cincinnati New Market Solar Project—being built in an Appalachian county--, and how the developer/IBEW partnership is building the largest solar project in Eastern US. Ed Hill, Jr. spoke to the IBEW-NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) joint labor-management partnership to marshal skilled union workers and construct a diverse apprenticeship pipeline for the next generation of workers.

Together with our partners at the MP4MA and RA, Heartland pushed for real federal legislation and measures to help us rebuild the region and country. We helped pass the bi-partisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest climate legislation ever passed. Together, we represent a large, growing force that has become a focal point for the long-term recovery of the region. 

Joe Biden has visited Pittsburgh often, kicking off his campaign here, and pledging to rebuild the Fern Hollow Bridge in the East End after it collapsed (it is being rebuilt with lightning speed) and the region and put union workers back to work.

We agree with DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm that the Global Forum came at a pivotal time. We are on the cusp of the most important transition human society has ever seen.

As the Secretary put it, the Steel City of Pittsburgh is “a town that exemplifies how a legacy energy and industrial-dependent economy can be transformed into a technology and innovation powerhouse.”


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