Natural gas power plant approved

Natural gas power plant approved

WELLSBURG — An $884 million natural gas electricity generator is one step closer to reality in West Virginia because state regulators on Tuesday issued a siting certificate for the planned Brooke County Power plant.

This is one of the projects West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher said may receive funding from a portion of the planned $83.7 billion investment by China Energy. During a visit to China in November, Thrasher signed a memorandum of understanding agreement with the company while in the presence of President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Just getting that application approved is something that lets us move forward. You can’t line up financing until you get a permit,” said Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle. “This was a major hurdle that needed to be overcome.”

Original plans called for the Brooke County generator to go at the former Wheeling Corrugating plant at Beech Bottom, but the new site is in a portion of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Cross Creek Wildlife Management Area.

According to the Brooke County Power website, the plant would generate enough natural gas electricity to power about 700,000 homes. The information states the plant will eventually lead to $440.5 million worth of economic activity per year.

Information from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia shows the plant will consist of two combustion turbines that will drive two generators, along with an additional steam turbine. It has a projected operational lifespan of 30 years, while developers place the plant into service by January 2021. There will be about 400 construction jobs and 30 permanent operations jobs, according to estimates.

“Right now, they are pioneers,” Ford said of Brooke County Power developers. “But, it proves we are on the national radar when we can get projects like this.”

The company entered into payment in lieu of taxes agreements with the Brooke County Commission and the Brooke County Board of Education, as well as a lease agreement with the commission.

Another potential natural gas-fired power plant, Moundsville Power, remains stalled, though officials with Quantum Utility Generation still list it on their website.