Energy Committee

The Rural Action Energy Committee formed from Rural Renewal house parties where energy was identified as a top priority for southeast Ohio, and has gathered  information and developed focus areas. But energy and climate issues are crucial to focus on, and Rural Action is making strides to stay aware of and supportive of many energy issues, including the closing of coal plants across Ohio, and what those closures mean for workers and communities. Rural Action managed technical assistance funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER funding to assess a workforce program for solar manufacturing connected to a proposal by AEP to build 400 MW of utility scaled solar. Rural Action also partners with local organizations including Blue Rock Station and Upgrade Athens to expand solar installer training, solar awareness, and solar generator workshops. Staying on top of energy policy, and supporting partners like the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Corporation (SOPEC), an aggregation council of government, Rural Action continues to be part of a growing conversation about Ohio’s energy transition. The Energy Committee has focused on a number of areas including the following:
  • A Park and Ride system beginning with a pilot program for Athens County
  • An alternative fuels corridor along State Route 33 from Columbus to the Ohio River called the U.S. Rt. 33 Biofuels Corridor
  • Providing broad-based climate change, resiliency and energy efficiency education in the Appalachian Ohio communities
  • Working with partners to implement ways to make best use of our energy resources through community planning, home energy audits and retrofits, and creating the jobs to support these changes

Rural Action is a member of the Rural Climate Network

Coal Plant Closure Communities

Rural Action worked with national, state, regional, and local organizations to develop a response system in coal plant closure communities. Rural Action had two roles: fostering coalitions and partnerships for plant communities, and supporting asset based development and economic diversification through its Entrepreneurial Communities strategy. This is early work, but the scale of coal plant closures in Ohio are greater than any other state, affecting workers, supply chains, and tax bases for years to come. Any response should occur at the state level and bring resources, be led by affected communities and labor, and focus on diversifying local and regional economies in part through new energy strategies.

Appalachian Ohio Solar Supply Chain Initiative

An ARC-funded technical assistance project, Rural Action helped a diverse group of educational, workforce, veteran, labor, and economic development partners create a road map for creating a solar manufacturing supply chain and workforce. This project was done because of a 400 MW utility scaled solar installation developed for American Electric Power as part of a 2016 coal plant closure settlement with the Sierra Club. This innovative settlement, and the solar energy associated with is (along with 500MW of wind energy) has the potential to bring manufacturers to Appalachian Ohio. Rural Action continues to monitor and advocate for the jobs associated with this solar project for Appalachian Ohio.

Solar Training

With the leadership of Blue Rock Station and partnership of Upgrade Athens, Rural Action hosts a number of solar training events throughout the year. Blue Rock Station’s Jay Warmke provides a week-long, certified solar installer training, along with half day solar generator classes, and day-long Intro to Solar events. Hosted at the Kuhre Center for Rural Renewal, check Blue Rock’s website for class times and dates. Learn More

Distributed Solar Promotion

Rural Action is a marketing partner of OH SUN, the Ohio division of Community Power Network. In a number of east coast states, Community Power Network has a proven methodology to scale distributed, roof top solar through co-ops – groups of local homeowners able to bulk purchase materials and installations to drive down costs, share information in a peer-to-peer format, and advocate for policies that promote energy democracy. Rural Action is happy to share information about OH SUN events and support the creation of co-ops across Ohio.


Energy Committee Members
Robin Kinney is a retired electrical engineer. He moved to Meigs County in 2001 and built a passive solar-heated underground home including wind turbine and solar photovoltaic for alternative energy. His woods is under a Forest Stewardship Management Plan and includes a plantation of Loblolly Pines. Robin is Chair of the Energy Committee and can be contacted at 740.843.1052 or
Teny Bannick is a human ecologist and master degree architectural designer. She is working to catalyze a carbon neutral, nuclear free, resource and energy sufficient economy, for Appalachia based on ecological design.

Matthew Bennett
Dana Carlson
Richard Carlson
Elahu Gosney
Jeanne Haseley
Dick Hogan
Gary Houser
Jennifer Simon
Sarah Watling
Yin Wei
Lois Whealey
Rick Zielinkski
Carole Womeldorf
Dan Imhoff
Greg Kremer
Mary Ann Borch
Milt Greek
Scott Miller
Dwight Mitchell
Roger Wilkins