All side pleased with latest Longview PILOT

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Payment in lieu of tax agreements between the county and Longview Power are nearing final approval. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the agreements at the December 16 meeting.

The two agreements cover the $1.1 billion addition of a 1,200 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine and a solar field that will generate another 70 megawatts of power.

The commission used lessons learned from the 2003 agreement to make this one more equitable for the citizens of the county , according to commissioner Sean Sikora. The new agreements have been written to allow the county to keep more of the $58.2 million over the next 30 years than the first PILOT arrangement.

“Sixty-nine-and-a-half percent would stay and 30.4 percent would go to the state,” Sikora said,” The way the new agreement is structured 98.3 percent of the dollars stay in Mon County.”

The Mon County Board of Education has also approved the agreement and will have access to some of the funds for capital improvements or programming costs.

“It is our intent to use these extra dollars at the county to work together with the BOE to fund projects that will benefit both of us,” Sikora said.

Charleston-based attorney from Frost Brown Todd L.L.C., Carrie Cecil represent the school board and suggested establishing a revenue bond through the county commission that could fund capital projects. Superintendent Eddie Campbell offered to sift through the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan to pull out projects that would qualify.

Cecil also offered the option of establishing a non-profit to disburse the funds. If a non-profit is established, that money could be used for programing and other non-capital expenses, but require a new board of decision makers.

“We see it as a win-win, we have more dollars we can spend indirectly in conjunction with the school board,” Sikora said,” We want to keep those dollars in Mon County to benefit all of our citizens.”

There will also be an economic benefit during the construction phase for businesses and workers.

“Longview, to their credit has worked out an agreement with the union laborers, so they’ll use nothing but union labor,” Sikora said,” So, the local laborers are really in favor of that.”

Longview Power generates and sells the power to the 13-state network operated by PJM Interconnection. The Longview Power website describes the Maidsville plant as the cleanest in the PJM network.

“The best place to put a power plant is beside another power plant,” Sikora said,” So, it’s a move to leading edge technology, this will be the first of its type in the state.”