Toyota to buy power from planned Martin County solar installation on former surface coal mine

by Liam Niemeyer, Kentucky Lantern

Japanese car manufacturer Toyota says it plans to purchase 100 megawatts of power from a 200-megawatt solar installation in Martin County being built on a former surface coal mine and brownfield site.  

Toyota in a Wednesday news release stated the multi-billion-dollar company would use the solar power to offset some of its carbon emissions. Toyota plans to make all its operations in North America carbon neutral by 2035. Toyota’s Georgetown operation is the company’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world. 

The solar installation is being constructed by Savion, a subsidiary of the oil and gas company Shell, with the support of a Kentucky-based renewable energy company founded by former Democratic State Auditor Adam Edelen. 

“A blockbuster announcement literally years in the making,” Edelen said on Twitter. “The promise of renewable energy is coming to Appalachian coal country.”

The 2,541-acre solar installation will be constructed on the former Martiki Coal Mine site near the border of West Virginia and Kentucky. Toyota expects the installation to be operational in 2024. 

The solar development has been in the works for years with developers previously stating the project could bring hundreds of temporary jobs to the county and state during construction and a few dozen long-term jobs. In a 2021 filing before the state’s utility regulator, the developers also said the project could raise approximately $9 million in local taxes over the lifetime of the solar installation. 

David Absher, senior manager of environmental sustainability at Toyota Motor North America, in a statement said power purchase agreements such as the one in Martin County can help bring “new opportunities to former coal and energy communities.” 

 “It is important that renewable power is more available to large-scale U.S. energy buyers, and converting brownfields like this offers a path forward for former energy communities to take advantage of the infrastructure they already have with transmission lines while providing clean energy to the grid,” Absher said. 

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