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  • Writer's pictureBrad Morton

Morton Solar is a product of the coal industry

Updated: May 24, 2023

My early childhood years of life were spent in the communities of Oakland City and Spurgeon, Indiana where almost every family member was positively impacted the economic benefits of the coal industry. These communities are located in Gibson and Pike Counties respectively and in the heart of one of the largest deposits of coal on the Indiana side of the Illinois Coal Basin. The coal in these areas were relatively shallow and so strip mining was prevalent in Pike Counties where these mines surrounded my grandmother's house on the south skirts of Spurgeon. My Grandfather Leslie and Uncle David were lifelong employed by the mining industry all around the area. And as a child, I knew those Christmas presents were there because coal mining provided a very good living for my family. And, another grandfather, Glen Morton, worked for the Southern Railway which hauled millions of tons of coal throughout the midwest from coal mines to power plants.

As a Certified B Corporation, our mission is to help SW Indiana build the bridge to a cleaner energy future.

And, I deeply admired all of those men that supported my family, and other miners that supported the families of my friends and community. Some of the mining companies in the area back then were Old Ben, Black Beauty, Enos, and Peabody which had a massive dragline near my Grandmother's house. I could see the lights at night time and could watch from her yard or out the window. And, sometimes my grandmother would tell me when my family members were operating it.

In Oakland City, the train tracks were directly behind my grandmother's house. My grandmother knew when grandpa would be coming by on the train and she could walk out the back door and easliy see and wave at him as he passed by. This was a common, if not daily routine as the number of trains passed through town were many.

Morton Family Coal Mining Hall of Fame

Here are some pictures in tribute to some of our family members that were employed by the coal mining industry here in SW Indiana:

coal miner

Great Grandfather Pearlie Leslie worked for Enos Coal Mines in 1910's-1940's,

coal miner

Grandfather Paul Leslie worked for Enos Coal Company in 1930's-1960's.

coal miner

Uncle David Leslie worked for Peabody Coal Company from 1950's to 1990's.

coal transporter

Grandfather Glen Morton worked for Southern Railway hauling coal from 1940's-1990's.

The positive economic impact of the coal industry in SW Indiana has been gigantic over the years and complete towns were built to support it. And, it was a way of life for almost all in those communities back then, and there are still many families supported by it today, and will be for many years into the future. But, even then, it was apparent that those mining jobs could not last forever. Coal is a finite resource and the rate of consumption is not going to be sustainable into the future, economically, for multiple reasons, but not to mention our planet.

Today, we know that solar energy can help us build an economic bridge to our future, and our goal is to create good paying jobs for our community. And, our mission is to help make solar energy economically and technically viable for both rooftop and utility scale solar. But, we believe rooftop solar is the most advantageous for our economy and distributed generation will benefit society more than centralized generation. But, monopoly utility companies see rooftop solar as a threat to their business model, so it is important for our state government to allow this to happen by creating fair laws for our residents and citizens to have rooftop systems.

Rooftop Solar is NOT a threat to the coal industry...

But unfortunately, utility companies view rooftop solar as a threat to their business model in which they enjoy a monopoly status. And, as a monopoly, they are able to charge their customers whatever price they want for electricity. Solar energy allows the home owner to generate their own energy and even send some of their excess back to the grid if they choose to do so. Herein is where the controversy exists, reversing the flow of electricity on power lines reverses the flow of money in the opposite direction. And, monopolies want to keep money flowing to them.

Indiana legislature has not been solar friendly.

In the big energy picture, solar energy will not likely be a baseload supplier, it will only be a peak load supplier for summer loads such as air conditioning. But, solar can be much, much more of our energy pie than it is now. We could be generating 20-30% of our energy from solar with the technology that we have in place now. But, our Indiana politicians won't allow that to happen. They have put restrictions on solar so that monopolies can maintain their control over the citizens.

We are NOT here to displace coal industry jobs or reduce economic impact, we ARE here to help be a buffer and facilitate the transition during the inevitable decrease in coal demand due to climate change. And, we know that home owners across SW Indiana will see the benefits of generating their own electricity as they learn from their family, friends, and neighbors. And, this is our mission and part of the momentum that has already been built.

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