Presley’s solar venture has interesting political frame

Published 9:40 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

By Sid Salter
Brandon Presley’s new post-election employment in the private sector solar energy business has
some interesting political framing. The announcement of the 2023 Democratic Party
gubernatorial nominee and longtime Northern District Public Service commissioner’s new gig
made a splash in green energy circles around the country.
Lexington, Kentucky-based Edelen Renewables announced this week that Presley would join the
company as vice president of strategic initiatives for the solar development firm working out of a
newly established Mississippi office. The company said Presley would “utilize his expertise and
national reputation as an elected official and utility regulator” to advance Edelen’s mission “to
bring the promise of renewable energy to the forgotten places of America.”
The firm touts “advancing several utility and commercial solar scale projects in 12 states” and
defines on their website ( a rather unique focus for their operations:
“From Appalachia to Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos, we are bringing the promise of renewable
energy to the forgotten places, where coal miners and oil and gas workers powered the industrial
development of America for a century. Squaring that deal – putting displaced energy workers
back to work in a new, greener economy – is our passion.”
Presley, the former two-term Nettleton mayor, failed in his 2023 bid to unseat incumbent
Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves by a margin of 50.97 % to 47.70% with independent
Gwendolyn Grey taking 1.36% of the vote, spent most of his public life in Mississippi on the
PSC from 2008 to 2024.
During his PSC tenure, Presley chaired the PSC from 2016 to 2020 and presided over the
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in 2019.
In announcing Presley’s hiring, company founder and CEO Adam Edelen said: “For Brandon,
it’s all about giving folks a shot at the American dream. His commitment to that mission, his
expertise in the energy space, and his stature as a nationally recognized utility regulator and
public servant make him an ideal leader in our company. As we strive to expand the green
energy winners’ circle, Brandon will lead much of our engagement, from utility executives and
policymakers to community leaders working to bring modern economic opportunity to their
Presley weighed in on the new venture as well: “Getting this country to energy independence,
while creating good jobs for good people in hard-luck communities has been my focus (at the
PSC) in Mississippi. The opportunity to build upon my service as President of NARUC and take
that mission across America is too good to pass up.”

Politicos across the state and nation will recognize the Edelen name in Democratic Party circles.
Adam Edelen served a term as Kentucky’s elected state auditor from 2012 to 2016 after serving
as chief of staff to Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Edelen was defeated in a re-
election bid in 2015 by Republican Mike Harmon.
In 2019, Edelen ran third in Kentucky’s Democratic gubernatorial primary behind eventual
winner Andy Beshear, who was re-elected to a second term as Kentucky’s governor in 2023.
Anyone familiar with the Loretta Lynn standard “Coal Miner’s Daughter” can appreciate a novel
part of Edelen’s strategy and vision for solar energy in coal-producing Kentucky and beyond.
Edelen is building large solar farms on reclaimed coal strip mines and working with coal
companies to get it done.
In eastern Kentucky in Martin County, Edelen brought his concept to fruition near the famous
Van Leer Mine where Loretta Lynn’s father toiled in Johnson County, Ky., in the form of a $231
million coal-to-solar project. In 2022, The New York Times visited the Edelen coal-to-solar
project in some of the poorest areas of Appalachia and pronounced it promising both for green
energy and producing jobs where coal production has “flatlined.”
Edelen, the Kentucky Democrat, said of Mississippi Democrat Presley: “He’s simply the right
guy, with the right skills and experience to have a massive impact as we advance our mission.
His future is bright. I’m thrilled he’ll continue his public service with us.”
The “public service” reference should give those watching the state’s future elections pause.
Mississippi voters likely haven’t heard the last of Presley.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at

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