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Expert Insight

Suddenly a Distressed Coal Town Thrives . . . and Provides a Model for Successful Clean Energy Economic Transition

Author(s): Sean O'Leary
Senior Researcher
Ohio River Valley Institute
Date: October 13, 2021 at 3:44 PM

Rural Centralia, Washington, and surrounding Lewis County have long struggled economically. From 1998 to 2014 the county added no jobs. The town’s largest employer, a coal mine, which employed 600 workers, closed in 2006. And operations at its other major employer, a coal-fired power plant have been reduced by half as the plant works toward a planned retirement in 2025. As these events unfolded, they seemed like an economic death sentence to many in Centralia. But fate intervened. The mine’s and power plant’s owner, TransAlta Corporation, struck a deal with the state of Washington and environmental groups to fund an… [more]

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