OCED CEML Selection Snapshot

Project Name: Copper Recovery in Arizona for the Domestic Energy Supply Chain 

Location: Graham and Greenlee Counties, Arizona

Federal Cost Share: $80,000,000 

Selectee: Freeport Minerals Corporation

Technology: Microgrid, Geothermal Clean Heat, and a Battery Energy Storage System (Current Mine – Copper) 

Geothermal, microgrid, battery storage

Project Impacts:

  • Generate clean, industrial-scale heat to enable the recovery over time of billions of pounds of residual copper, a critical material, from already mined material that was previously considered unrecoverable
  • Demonstrate installation of a microgrid on an active mine to increase energy resilience and reliability   
  • Reduce emissions from mining activities by decreasing reliance on onsite backup generators
  • Prioritize workforce development by demonstrating a commitment to local economic opportunity organizations and community investments 

Project Summary: 

Copper Recovery in Arizona for the Domestic Energy Supply Chain seeks to demonstrate direct-use, geothermal, clean heat to increase responsibly produced copper. This, combined with a microgrid and a battery energy storage system, will decrease the mines’ reliance on onsite thermal backup generators, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the energy and climate resilience of local communities. Located at Arizona’s Morenci and Safford copper mines, this project aims to demonstrate a way to use naturally occurring, geothermal heat to increase copper yields from already mined material. The project could increase copper recovery by 25 million pounds annually with the potential to increase recovery up to 40%—depending on the geothermal resources. With copper demand forecast to increase, extracting these difficult-to-access resources can help secure our domestic clean energy supply chain. Freeport Minerals Corporation (FMC) is the selectee and plans to have this demonstration project serve as a blueprint to unlock follow-on investment at other copper mines across the country. At the local level, the communities surrounding these mines would benefit from lower energy rates and reduced power outages. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, this project plans to create 121 construction jobs and 12 permanent operations jobs. FMC plans to work to continue strengthening its partnerships with hundreds of high schools, technical and community colleges, and universities to help students of all backgrounds access skills that will help them fully participate in this project and other economic benefit opportunities. The company will also continue to provide 300 annual higher-education scholarships for Native American students from 14 tribes to ensure access to quality jobs. FMC convenes Community Partnership Panels (CPPs) composed of diverse and representative stakeholders who regularly meet to ensure two-way dialogue and input. In recent years, the Greenlee County CPP voiced local concerns and interest in addressing the growing impacts of climate change in the region. In response, if this project is awarded federal funding, FMC plans to increase investments in multiple new climate resilience projects, including increased funding to Local First Arizona to finance projects focused on local climate and economic resiliency. 

For more information, email AZ_CEML.hq.doe.gov.  

Project Name: Lewis Ridge Project (Coal-to-Pumped Storage Hydropower) in Kentucky

Location: Bell County, Kentucky

Federal Cost Share: $81,000,000 

Selectee: Rye Development

Technology: Pumped Storage Hydroelectric (Former Mine) 

Pumped Storage Hydro

Project Impacts:

  • Increase energy resilience for 16+ states by providing cost-effective, reliable, clean electricity available during times of high demand or extreme weather events
  • Re-use already impacted habitats for pumped storage hydroelectric, demonstrating pathways for replicability on similar mine site across Appalachia
  • Reduce emissions and local energy burdens by replacing highly polluting “peaker plants” with cheaper, cleaner hydropower, providing a valuable tool to balance the power grid
  • Leverage local resources to provide apprenticeship opportunities and train local workforce for permanent operations and maintenance jobs 

Project Summary:

The Lewis Ridge Project (Coal-to-Pumped Storage Hydropower) in Kentucky proposes to convert former coal mine land in Bell County into a closed-loop, 287 MW pumped-storage hydroelectric (PSH) facility. This facility could provide 671,700 MWh of clean electricity annually—enough to power about 67,000 homes each year—with a daily energy storage/generation of 2,165 MWh and the potential to produce up to eight hours of dispatchable power when needed, such as during times of peak demand or extreme weather events. Pumped storage hydropower can give new life to former mine land and provide their surrounding communities with cost-effective and reliable clean electricity. To further maximize this project’s benefits, Rye Development, the selectee, plans to explore the feasibility of adding floating solar panels on the reservoirs to increase clean energy generation and minimize water evaporation.

Due to the decline of the coal industry, Bell County, located in southeastern Kentucky, saw nearly a quarter of the community relocate, significantly decreasing the area’s tax revenues since 1970. As part of its Community Benefits Plan, this project anticipates creating close to 1,500 construction jobs and 30 operations jobs, adding millions in tax revenue to the community over the project’s projected 100-year lifetime. In partnership with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a local nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the Kentucky Appalachian region, Rye Development has been engaging with stakeholders since Spring 2022, leading to 17 local letters of support of this project. Rye and SOAR plan to prioritize local hiring through partnerships with several unions and the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College and by providing a Registered Apprenticeship Program and other subsidized workforce training activities. This would ensure that workers on this project receive nationally recognized, professional credentials, building out an Appalachian clean energy workforce with skills that translate to future projects. 

For more information, email KY_CEML@hq.doe.gov.

Project Name: Decarbonizing Gold Mines in Nevada

Location: Elko, Humboldt, and Eureka Counties, Nevada

Federal Cost Share: $95,000,000 

Selectee: Nevada Gold Mines LLC

Technology: Solar + Battery Energy Storage System (Current Mine - Gold)


Project Impacts:

  • Reduce demand for power generated from sources like coal and natural gas by generating on-site solar power for mining activities
  • Utilize battery storage to increase reliability and enhance electricity self-sufficiency during off-peak sunlight hours
  • Demonstrate clean energy deployment on an active gold mining site to support decarbonization efforts in the mining industry
  • Build upon established practices to provide economic opportunities for rural and tribal communities

Project Summary:

Decarbonizing Gold Mines in Nevada seeks to develop a solar photovoltaic (PV) facility and a battery energy storage system on three active gold mines across Elko, Humboldt, and Eureka counties. Generating clean electricity onsite at the mines would displace self-generation or grid purchase, which is primarily generated from fossil fuels. By shifting to clean energy, this project could reduce mining operations emissions by 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide over the project’s proposed lifetime, demonstrating a replicable way the mining industry could reach net-zero operations by 2050. Reducing mining emissions is critical as the nation ramps up its domestic supply chain to meet mineral demands in the clean energy, medical, aerospace, and advanced technology industries. 

Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) is a Joint Venture between Barrick (61.5%) and Newmont (38.5%) and is operated by Barrick. NGM will utilize existing Community Development Committees comprised of elected local officials who will oversee allocation of the project’s community investment budget. The project estimates that construction can create approximately 300 full-time jobs, as well as internships, mentorships, technical training, scholarships, and apprenticeships to expand access to mining and energy jobs in the state. NGM is committed to meeting the state’s requirements for local hiring, health care, and fair wage standards, ensuring good-paying, high-quality jobs. 

For more information, email NV_CEML@hq.doe.gov.

Project Name: Mineral Basin: Coal-to-Solar in Pennsylvania

Location: Clearfield County, Pennsylvania 

Federal Cost Share: $90,000,000 

Selectee: Mineral Basin Solar Power, LLC

Technology: Solar (Former Mine) 


Project Impacts:

  • Leverage the region’s energy-producing legacy and skilled workforce to develop critical infrastructure to supply the grid with clean, renewable solar power generation 
  • Avoid the displacement of natural and agricultural land for large, utility-scale solar projects by reusing previously disturbed mine land
  • Demonstrate the deployment of utility-scale clean energy projects on former mine land, providing valuable lessons for building on unique terrain
  • Create new jobs and provide economic opportunities to local communities by working with local education and workforce institutions to expand access to training specifically for project activities, adjacent sectors, and other high-demand, high-wage sectors relevant to the regional labor market

Project Summary:

The Mineral Basin: Coal-to-Solar in Pennsylvania project seeks to repurpose almost 2,700 acres of former coal mining land in Clearfield County and develop the largest solar project in Pennsylvania—a utility-scale 402 MW solar PV facility that will produce enough clean energy to power more than 70,000 homes. This project will increase regional access to clean energy and fill a critical electricity-generation gap following the closure of the Homer City coal plant. Due to the site’s topography, environmental, and geotechnical considerations, this project will serve as a demonstration for future mine land-to-solar projects in the Appalachian region and for Swift Current with approximately 1,000 MW to be developed and constructed over the next five years. 

The selectee, Mineral Basin Solar Power, LLC, a subsidiary of Swift Current Energy, began meeting with stakeholders in 2020, which resulted in the planning for a Community Benefits Agreement that outlines potential benefits for local municipalities. As part of its existing Community Benefits Plan, once operational, it will contribute $500 for every megawatt generated annually to Goshen and Girard townships for community improvements of over $200,000 per year. The project expects to create more than 750 construction jobs and six operations jobs, while providing $1.1 million in annual tax revenue to townships, the county, and local school district. In addition to direct job creation, Mineral Basin Solar Power, LLC plans to invest nearly $20 million in economic development to remove barriers to economic mobility and create opportunities for youths and adults seeking to upskill, right-skill, and reskill across high-demand sectors in the 27-county region. 

For more information, email PA_CEML@hq.doe.gov


Project Name: A Model for Transition: Coal-to-Solar in West Virginia

Location: Nicholas County, West Virginia

Federal Cost Share: $129,000,000 

Selectee: Nicholas County Solar Project, LLC, a subsidiary of Savion, LLC

Technology: Solar (Former Mine) 


Project Impacts: 

  • Transform a former coal community that experienced significant job and population loss by creating new employment opportunities, building on the region’s energy-producing legacy to lead the clean energy future
  • Establish the national Coal Transition Workforce Center to enable displaced workers to build skills needed to access good-paying clean energy jobs  
  • Demonstrate an effective renewable energy project with significant community benefits through collaboration with the local decisionmakers and community college

Project Summary:

A Model for Transition: Coal-to-Solar in West Virginia is a 250 MW, utility-scale solar PV project proposed at two former coal mines in Nicholas County that would produce enough clean electricity to power approximately 39,000 West Virginia homes. With no feasible industrial use, these inactive mine sites provide access to existing energy infrastructure that can transmit energy to the grid. Repurposing these previously disturbed sites for solar energy development can reduce development on sensitive natural and agricultural land, produce and deliver clean power to local communities, and lay the groundwork for a regional economic revitalization starting with the workforce. Like much of Appalachia, Nicholas County experienced a significant population decline as coal production slowed. To establish a workforce infrastructure able to serve the state for generations to come, the New River Community and Technical College, Mana Group, and National Association of Counties Research Foundation plan to create a national Coal Transition Workforce Center. This project also aims to engage state labor groups and education programs, curating a curriculum and identifying pathways to good-paying, clean energy jobs. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the project anticipates creating approximately 400 construction jobs and four operations jobs. In addition, Nicholas County Solar Project, LLC, a subsidiary of Savion, LLC, and the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a Project Labor Agreement. The project has the potential to bolster overall local economic health by contributing more than $18.5 million in property taxes over the project’s proposed 40-year lifetime, helping to fill the tax revenue gap left by retired coal mines. 

For more information, email WV_CEML@hq.doe.gov.


The CEML program aims to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of deploying clean energy projects on both current (operating) and former (abandoned or inactive) mine land across the country. These demonstration projects will provide models for mine land development and community engagement that can be used by the private sector to unlock the potential of mine land for siting clean energy projects. 

Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CEML received $500 million to demonstrate innovative mine land conversion to clean energy projects with a goal of replication across the country. The law requires up to five clean energy projects be carried out in diverse geographical regions, at least two of which must be solar. 

A key benefit of this program is the potential to replicate and scale the projects across the millions of acres of U.S. mine land. This will provide the mining industry with a range of ways to decarbonize their operations and minimize environmental impacts, abating greenhouse gas emissions and disturbances to fragile, surrounding ecosystems. Simultaneously, replicating clean energy technologies like these on other mines would maximize local workforce development and community opportunities for generations. 

The five projects selected for awards negotiations are in Arizona, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and West Virginia.

Click on map to view larger version.

The selected projects cover a range of clean energy technologies, from solar, microgrids, and pumped storage hydropower to geothermal and battery storage systems. In accordance with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, two of the projects use solar power technology. 

Following a Request for Information in June 2022 to solicit public input, DOE issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement in April 2023. and then conducted merit reviews of eligible project submissions. The merit review criteria included:     

  • Technical Merit, Innovation, and Impact (20%), including demonstrating replicable pathways to deploy clean energy on mine land and identify risk mitigation mechanisms. 
  • Financial and Market Viability (25%), including the proposed project’s economic viability, sustainability, and potential growth beyond DOE funding, including achieving replicability across the market.
  • Workplan (15%), including the speed at which the project could begin operations and overall project management details. 
  • Management Team and Project Partners (20%), including the team’s ability to execute the plan with a high level of success. 
  • Community Benefits Plan (20%), including an assessment of community and labor engagement, quality job creation and workforce development, diversity equity inclusion and accessibility, and the Justice40 Initiative.

Selected projects are expected to expand local and regional workforce partnerships and generate local tax revenues, supporting essential public services and spurring new economic opportunities in communities that have helped power the nation for generations. Selected projects will help strengthen America’s energy security and ensure the nation’s mining communities continue to play a vital role in our energy economy—reinforcing the Biden-Harris Administration’s deep commitment to building an inclusive and equitable clean energy future that creates safer, more resilient communities.

Another key benefit of this program is the potential to replicate and scale similar projects across the millions of acres of mine land in the U.S.

OCED will engage in early, frequent, and meaningful engagement with local communities that host the projects. Communities will have substantive opportunities to engage with both DOE and the projects—starting during the negotiation process and extending throughout the full lifecycle of each project. 

On Friday, March 22, 2024, OCED will host a national briefing to provide an update on the CEML program and share highlights on the projects selected for award negotiations. Additionally, OCED will co-host five project specific virtual briefings to allow participants to engage with DOE and selected projects in their local communities. Selectees will provide information about their projects, discuss the project timeline, and share how community members can be involved. OCED will continue to work with stakeholders throughout the design, construction, and operation of the CEML projects. Learn more about CEML local engagement opportunities here.

CEML projects that are successfully negotiated and awarded are required to implement their Community Benefits Plans, including engaging with community and labor groups; investing in America’s workforce; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and supporting the Justice40 Initiative. 

If awarded,  OCED will evaluate these projects through a  phased approach to project management  that  includes “go/no-go” decision points between each project phase where DOE reviews and evaluates the key elements of the project, including community benefit commitments, and assesses how well they are being implemented.