WELLSBURG – A Buffalo-based energy company has announced it may build two gas-fired power plants on more than 100 acres north of the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant in Beech Bottom. The Brooke County Commission on Tuesday signed two memorandums of understanding, one for each plant, that officials with the Energy Solutions Consortium said are needed to support plans to build the two plants. Officials with the company said each plant could bring up to 60 jobs with salaries of $80,000 as well as hundreds of jobs involved in constructing them. Curtis Wilkerson, spokesman for Energy Solutions, didn't know the amount of money that may be expended for the plants' construction but said the plant planned for Moundsville amounts to a $615 million investment, with a projected economic impact of more than $8 billion. Wilkerson cautioned that the company has “a long waiting game” ahead, as it must convince the PJM Interconnection of the projects' feasibility and secure state permits, including a certificate of need from the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Approval from the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states, could take several months, he said. Wilkerson and Brian Helmick, attorney for Energy Solutions, both noted the company hasn't ruled out other potential sites for the plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But Matt Dorn, an owner of the company, told the commissioners, “This is the first step. It's a big step, and we're going to do everything we can to make these projects happen.” The Brooke County commissioners and leaders of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle said they are optimistic about the endeavor. Commission President Tim Ennis praised the efforts of BDC leaders Pat Ford and Marvin Six in bringing four businesses to the former corrugating plant within a few years and in attracting Energy Solutions to build north of it. Six, the BDC's assistant director, stressed the new plants won't supplant businesses operating in the corrugating plant. Bill D'Alesio, chairman of the BDC's board of directors, and fellow board member John Frankovitch also credited Hackman Capital Partners of Los Angeles – which bought the property through bankruptcy proceedings for Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and sold it to the BDC for future development – and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which awarded a $225,000 grant for the property's rehabilitation. County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said the site's proximity to two natural gas lines, the Ohio River and affordable barge transportation needed during the construction have been selling points for the project.
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