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Members Named to New Southwest Virginia Energy Authority



October 3, 2019 - Members have been appointed to the new Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority.

The state House of Delegates named its four appointees Sept. 27, according to Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy spokesperson Tarah Kesterson:

• Mike Quillen, retired coal executive and chairman of the GO Virginia Region One economic development council.

• Duane Miller, executive director of the Lenowisco Planning District Commission and a GO Virginia Region One council member.

• Jason Eige, vice president of the Bristol-based United Co. and former policy advisor to Gov. Bob McDonnell.

• Dan Poteet, an executive at Dominion Energy.

About two weeks ago, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced his appointees:

• Michael Karmis, director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech.

• Brad Kreps of Abingdon, Clinch Valley program director, The Nature Conservancy.

• Kristen Westover, president of Mountain Empire Community College.

• Lydia Sinemus of Bristol, corporate director, human resources and environmental health and safety, Strongwell Corp.

Previously, the state Senate had named its three appointees:

• Steve Breeding, Russell County supervisor.

• Travis Hackworth, businessman and Tazewell County supervisor.

• Dr. Marcy Hernick, Appalachian College of Pharmacy professor and official.

Appointments are for four-year terms.

The authority was created this year through General Assembly legislation sponsored by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, and Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon.

The authority’s purpose is “promoting opportunities for energy development in Southwest Virginia, to create jobs and economic activity in Southwest Virginia consistent with the Virginia Energy Plan” and “to position Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth as a leader in energy workforce and energy technology research and development.”

The authority may also consult with research institutions, businesses, nonprofit organizations and stakeholders.

Among the authority’s legislatively mandated goals are promotion of: Pumped storage hydroelectric facilities in the region; development of renewable energy facilities on brownfield sites, including abandoned mine sites; energy workforce development; and energy technology research and development by, among other actions, promoting the development of a Southwest Virginia Energy Park.

Starting in 2020, the authority is to produce an annual report on its activities.

The authority’s mandate expires July 1, 2029.