MAIDSVILLE, W.Va. – The Longview Power air quality permit public comment session Tuesday night drew 32 people, both for and against the $1.1 billion gas-fired expansion at the facility in Maidsville.
Currently, Longview Power is a 700 megawatt facility that employs 150 full-time workers and produces power for PJM Interconnection Network. PJM distributes electricity produced by plants in its network and sells the power across a 13 state region that serves up to 65 million people. According to Longviewpower.com, the plant is newest and cleanest in the PJM network.
The 1,200 megawatt natural gas expansion will use a combined cycle gas turbine facility and a 5,500 foot 500 kV related transmission line. The project is valued at $1.1 billion and is expected to be operational in 2024.
Union representatives welcome the economic impact the project would bring to the region and families.
According to Shane Ferguson from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, this project will again serve as a starting point for many young electricians.
“It’s a life long career for a lot of apprentices,” Ferguson said,” We have apprentices that are now journeymen who started their career on the original project on that site.”
Bryan Raber from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union said the project will create hundreds of construction jobs and even more jobs in the region that will support the workers and supply the jobsite.
“The project is a huge job creator for the local workers,” Raber said,” With the owner’s written commitment to hire local union construction workers and a payroll during construction of over $110 million would not only benefit the workers and their families, but the community.”
Resident in the Cheat Lake area, Duane Nichols told the DEP panel the permit should be rejected based on the location of the facility. Nichols contends major hospitals, primary and secondary schools as well as Milan Puskar Stadium all draws thousand s of people to within miles of the power plant emitting gases from both coal and natural gas generation.
“The location puts it in a special category and that any measure of environmental quality and environmental justice would disqualify it on that basis.”
James Kotcon, Chairman of the West Virginia Sierra Club Conservation Committee, believes the expansion will add a fossil fuel burning facility at a time when the state should be moving toward renewable energy generation.
“Any new facility like this is planning to run for many many years,” Kotcon said,” We simply can’t tolerate that if we’re going to protect our climate.”
Resident, Betsy Lawson lives near the Maidsville facility and said she has seen the results of air pollution in her neighborhood. She too agreed that this is wrong time to bring another fossil power generation facility online.
“I have seen the effects of acid rain for decades. Everyday I walk along Sugar Grove Road and many of the tress I see are sick or dead,” Lawson said,” Adding more pollution does not just effect the Fort Martin community, but the entire eastern seaboard.”
Longview Power also has a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement that will pay Monongalia County $105 million over the life of the current facility. The new agreement for the expansion will add $58.2 million over the next 30 years to that total.
Public comments can be submitted through November 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. Written comments may be emailed to [email protected], with “Mountain State Clean Energy Comments” in the subject line, or mailed to Edward Andrews, WV Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Air Quality, 601 57th Street, SE, Charleston, WV 25304.