Natural gas-fired power plant closer to realization in Harrison County

CLARKSBURG, W. Va. — In taking the next step toward bringing one of three natural gas-fired power plants to Harrison County, commissioners approved two agreements at their most recent meeting.

The first established a lease agreement for the Pinnickinnick property on which the proposed power plant would be built with ESC Harrison County Power LLC for 30 years.

The second establishes a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program where $600,000 would be paid to the county over the time period of the lease. There would be an increase in that payment annually of no less than 2.5 percent.

The agreements will be sent to Harrison Power to be put in its application packet, which drives its effort to be one of the selected sites. The commission’s actions do not finalize anything, but do prevent delays in the regulatory approval process.

“There still could be some bumps in the road or some holdups,” Commission President Ron Watson said. “If they don’t get the package done and everything in place by this month, then it’s my understanding that they fall a year behind.”

As long as the application is sent in a timely manner to PJM Interconnection, the entity which directs wholesale electricity for the servicing area, Watson believes the Harrison County project will be approved.

“If we’re able to get our documentation in place and do our half, I think they wouldn’t be going through all of this if we weren’t one of the three that was going to be selected.”

The commission is anticipating a $600 million to $800 million impact for the facility, with roughly 400 workers involved in the construction of the facility and infrastructure.

Watson believes the impact will be significant once the plant is constructed, as well.

“Once the plant is up and running, it will have an annual economic impact of somewhere around $300 million,” he said. “[Using] 30, 40, 50 full-time workers with good paying jobs.”

The commission believes the impact could be expanded with the facility only utilizing 120 acres of the 200 available at the PK property. The plan is to develop the remaining land into an industrial park and seek out business to move in.

The PK property was singled out not only because of the available space, but also due to the current amount of money it is generating.

“There is no revenue that is coming off the property now, so it’s a windfall for all of us,” Watson said. “It gives us an opportunity to build an industrial park, use some of the revenues for our 911 center since the property was bought with the 911 fees and third, it gives us an opportunity to partner with the school system on a number of projects.”

There is still work remaining to complete the application packet. For instance, an agreement in the PILOT program must be approved by the Harrison County Board of Education, which officials indicate will meet soon to discuss the matter.