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article imageCoal mining museum switches to solar power to save money

By Karen Graham     Apr 7, 2017 in Environment
Benham - The little coal town of Benham, Kentucky is where folks can find the Kentucky Coal Museum, however, they won't be making any efforts to bring coal back. The museum has decided to switch to solar panels as a cost saving measure.
Located in Harlan County in Eastern Tennessee, the Kentucky Coal Museum is fully dedicated to the state's coal industry. So it seems like an odd place to be having solar panels installed on the roof. But it's strictly a cost-saving measure, reports
The move by the museum, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is also a symbol of the state's efforts to move away from coal-fired power plants as a primary source of electricity, as more and more coal plants are being replaced by natural gas and other energy sources.
The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham  Kentucky.
The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, Kentucky.
Roger Noe, a former state representative who sponsored legislation that created the coal museum in 1990 said, "It's a little ironic or coincidental that you are putting solar green energy on a coal museum. Coal comes from nature, the sun rays come from nature, so it all works out to be a positive thing."
Brandon Robinson, the communications director at the college told CNN affiliate WYMT that while coal and solar are different, they still are in many ways, the same, adding, "And, of course, coal is still king around here.”
"We believe that this project will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars, off the energy costs on this building alone, so it's a very worthy effort and it's going to save the college money in the long run," said Robinson.
As a matter of fact, in the 2016 presidential election, 85 percent of Harlen County voters went for Trump, based on his promise to bring the coal industry back to its former glory.
Coal Miners Statue located in Benham  Kentucky..
Coal Miners Statue located in Benham, Kentucky..
The Kentucky Coal Museum
The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham features exhibits focusing on Benham and the neighboring town of Lynch, telling the story of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky. The former coal camp town of Benham at one time had over 3,000 residents. Today, with no coal industry, there are just over 500 people left in the town.
It is housed in a former company store that was built by International Harvester in 1923. The site was purchased in 1990, and after renovations were completed, the museum opened in 1994. Visitors can get close-up looks at a miner's home, a company hospital, commissary, and school; engineering, coal sampling, a mock mine tour and a tour through the Loretta Lynn "Coal Miner's Daughter" exhibit on the third floor.
An interesting addition to the museum visit is a 30-minute tour of the Portal 31 Mine in nearby Lynch. The tour includes eight stops, transporting visitors through different eras in the coal industry in Kentucky, from 1910 to the present. It's an exciting tour, with visitors riding in a railcar through tunnels that are only six feet from floor to ceiling, so if anyone is claustrophobic, you might want to stay topside.
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