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U.S. Senator Manchin hosts Bill Gates to highlight Mountain State’s energy industry history and role in ensuring America’s energy security

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed Bill Gates, founder of Breakthrough Energy, to West Virginia on Monday to highlight the role the Mountain State has played in powering the nation.

Manchin used the visit to showcase the opportunities — made possible through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — to invest in our existing energy infrastructure, new advanced energy technologies and energy manufacturing in West Virginia that could help the nation become energy independent.

Manchin and Gates traveled to Glasgow, W.Va., to tour the Kanawha River Plant, a closed coal-fired power plant that used to provide 400 MW of electric generation capacity for homes and businesses across the region and employed more than 140 West Virginians at its peak. The tour highlighted the existing energy infrastructure that is ready for reinvestment and the skilled West Virginia workers ready to help develop new and advanced energy technologies to help realize the energy security benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the IRA. 

Throughout the day, the two met with federal and state officials representing West Virginia, local business leaders and various stakeholders who are evaluating opportunities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and IRA to site new energy production and manufacturing in West Virginia, including through re-developing existing sites that have been closed. The day concluded with a moderated discussion hosted by Marshall University President Brad Smith. 

“It was an honor to welcome my friend, Bill Gates, a world-renowned tech innovator, to West Virginia and introduce him to the people, communities and history that represent the best of our great state. For generations, West Virginians have made tremendous sacrifices to produce the energy and fuel this country has relied upon to become the superpower of the world,” said Manchin. 

“Today’s visit both recognized those sacrifices and looked toward a future where West Virginia — America’s energy powerhouse — can continue to lead the nation in energy production and innovation. Thanks to the investments we’ve made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure law and the IRA, our state’s abundant energy resources and skilled workers are uniquely positioned to help the United States achieve the objective of both laws: to become an energy secure and independent nation,” he added.

“I will continue working with Bill, West Virginia’s federal and state lawmakers, my bipartisan colleagues in Congress, stakeholders and business leaders as we explore ways to ensure West Virginia continues to produce affordable, dependable and reliable energy that will create good-paying jobs in our state, reduce our reliance on foreign supply chains and help the entire nation and our allies,” said Manchin. 

“West Virginia has a unique opportunity to build on its energy history by leading the clean energy transition. It has been great to learn more from West Virginia’s government, business, and civic leaders on the state’s legacy of powering the country, and I’m thankful for Sen. Manchin’s invitation and leadership on this work. Through historic government investments and the technological progress achieved in recent years, clean energy industries in West Virginia are well positioned for rapid growth, with the support of leaders prepared to drive forward this opportunity,” said Gates.

A summary of each visit is described below.

  • Senator Manchin and Mr. Gates attended a breakfast with the West Virginia delegation at the Governor’s Mansion. The breakfast was attended by Governor Jim Justice, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. Congresswoman Carol Miller, Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, WV House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, WV Senate President Craig Blair, WV Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael, WV Secretary of Commerce James Bailey, and Executive Vice President of Breakthrough Energy Mike Boots.
  • Senator Manchin, Mr. Gates and energy and WV business leaders toured the closed coal-fired Kanawha River Plant with President and Chief Operating Officer of Appalachian Power Aaron Walker. The tour showcased the hard work of generations of West Virginians and the role the Mountain State can continue to play in developing new innovative technologies made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the IRA.
  • Senator Manchin and Mr. Gates participated in a discussion moderated by Marshall University President Brad Smith and hosted by the WV Chamber of Commerce, WV Manufacturers Association, AFL-CIO Charleston Area Alliance and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce.

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