Coal Museum, Solar Power

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum goes solar

The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, Kentucky, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is switching to solar power to save money.

The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, KY. Solar panels are being installed on the roof.—benhamky.org photo

The museum, which memorializes Kentucky’s history in coal mining, will be modernizing with a new form of cheaper energy. This week, in a move that more than some are calling “a little ironic,” museum began installing solar PV on its roof.

The museum provides visitors with snapshots of coal miners’ lives in the early 20th century, connecting the rise of mining with the country’s history of industrialization. By 1843 the state had produced 100,000 tons of coal, and by 1879 it was up to a million tons. By 2001, 8.36 billion tons of coal had been extracted from Kentucky.

Before installing their first rooftop solar panels, the museum’s energy costs were regularly in the range of $2,100 a month. Once all 80 panels are up and running, the museum anticipates energy savings of $8,000 to $10,000 each year.

The Benham museum also has large, 2-ton bricks of coal specially made for the museum that visitors can take photos in front of.

This isn’t actually the first time a coal museum has gone solar. In 2012, the National Coal Mining Museum in Wales, United Kingdom, installed solar PV.

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