NORTON, Va., Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Secure Futures Solar, based in Staunton, has recently hired Matthew McFadden as a Project Coordinator for the Securing Solar for Southwest Virginia campaign, a partnership of Secure Futures, the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia and other organizations. McFadden will plan and execute efforts to install solar arrays on site at schools, hospitals, housing developments and businesses in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise Counties.
McFadden was born and raised in Wise County, where his family has lived on the same land for several generations. Over that period numerous family members worked in underground coal mines. Several of McFadden's relatives continue to work on local coal projects.
"With his connection to the region, Matt brings an understanding of Southwest Virginia's experience as an energy producer that inspires a vision for the area to become a powerhouse of the new energy economy through actively adopting solar power," said Ryan McAllister Acting CEO of Secure Futures.
McFadden's wife, Hannah, also comes from a lineage of coal miners. Her brother and father have worked in this industry for a combined 50 years.
"It is hard work. I respect the sacrifices they made to provide for their family, and I admire them to the core," said McFadden. "As a kid, I grew up knowing that once you finished school, you could get a job in the mines, work 60 hours a week and make a good living."
At an early stage of his career, McFadden planned to follow family tradition and head into the mines. But after receiving his "underground papers," the documents and credentials to qualify as a coal miner, Hannah's father, a miner with 37 years' experience, discouraged McFadden from pursuing a mining career.
Following this advice, Matt spent 12 years with Crutchfield Corporation, a consumer electronics retailer, first as a sales advisor and then as training manager, both in the company's Norton office. Afterwards, McFadden moved to Richmond, working for Livewire, a provider of automation services for homes and offices including audio-visual, lighting control, networking and security.
But McFadden missed the warmth and community of his home region and near the end of 2019 he moved back to Wise County. By then, his research into career opportunities had shown him that the one of the fastest growing employers in the country was the solar industry.
The cost of solar power has come down by 90% over the last ten years, helping to drive a steady increase in demand and the top rate of job growth in the U.S. economy. As of 2019, nearly 250,000 Americans worked in the solar industry, including 4,489 in Virginia, according to the Solar Foundation's Solar Jobs Census.
The pandemic initially disrupted growth in solar installations bringing significant job losses nationwide, but the industry quickly recovered in the third quarter. The Solar Energy Industries Association projects a record 19 gigawatts of new solar capacity will be installed in 2020, representing 43% year-over-year growth from 2019.
When he got the offer from Secure Futures, McFadden was ready to make a move into solar power.
"I came to Secure Futures because it is a company that is trying to bring more and better jobs to this area that I call home. I look for prosperity in the area. It would be a natural transition from one energy source to another."
Once the pandemic is over, roadblocks created by local electric utilities will remain a major barrier to adopting solar in Southwest Virginia. In the past, limits imposed by monopoly utilities on solar installation size, net metering and third-party financing such as power purchase agreements have played a major role in pushing solar companies away from the region.
"We welcome Matt to his new role and are excited for him to get to work helping to bring the benefits of solar to our region," said Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development with Appalachian Voices, a co-convener of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia. "Because of inequitable policy barriers and the stubbornness of our local utilities, Southwest Virginia has lagged behind the rest of the state in solar development. New legislation has opened up opportunities for commercial solar, but there is still a need for a coordinated effort; our collaborative partnership will help businesses, local governments and others to enjoy the benefits of solar, and Matt is now helping to lead that charge."
McFadden's initial contacts with schools, hospitals and businesses have been encouraging. "I see solar bringing good jobs back to good people who just want to have a good life," said McFadden. "The people can learn how to do solar and we have the land and the resources -- so let's do it."
About the Solar Workgroup
The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia comprises nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a robust renewable energy industry in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. The workgroup was co-convened in 2016 by the UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc., and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation assistance from Dialogue + Design Associates. Additional background information is available at www.swvasolar.org.
About Secure Futures, LLC
As a market and policy leader, Secure Futures builds, owns, manages and funds affordable Resilient Solar Solutions® for hospitals, schools and businesses. The company combines state-of–the-art solar technology with an innovative business model to make commercial scale solar readily affordable in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, helping customers to realize the economic, environmental, and community benefits of solar energy. In 2017, Secure Futures became a Certified B Corporation®. Find the company online at www.securefutures.solar.
**Headshot of Matthew McFadden available at https://tinyurl.com/y9zm7dd6**
Erik Curren, Secure Futures
SOURCE Secure Futures LLC