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Marshall Commission clears way for power plant

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — After receiving additional information and assurances from Moundsville Power officials following a Monday special meeting, Marshall County commissioners proceeded Tuesday to approve the Payment In Lieu of Tax agreement to facilitate construction of the $615 million natural gas electricity generator.

During a special meeting Monday, commissioners listened as representatives of Moundsville Power, insurance companies and others discussed the project. At the time, Commissioner Don Mason said commissioners needed additional information and discussion before proceeding to a vote on the 549-megawatt plant.

However, that vote came Tuesday, with Mason and Commissioner Brian Schambach voting in favor of the agreement. Commissioner Bob Miller cast the opposing vote, as he believes the $31 million in lease payments the county would receive over 30 years would be inadequate.

“I did not think we would vote (Tuesday), but they got the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted,” Mason said.

Audience members in the crowded commission room, consisting mostly of construction workers and those representing the plant, applauded the commission following the vote. Miller said following the meeting he hopes the plant proves to be a success.

“I want it to do well. I want them to succeed and use our gas and employ our people,” Miller said. “My opposition had nothing to do with the workers. I just don’t support government ownership of business.”

In addition to that and his concerns with lease payment amounts, Miller also cited the Environmental Protection Agency as one of his major concerns regarding the project.

“Two years from now, who is to say that this out of control EPA doesn’t come in and change the standards?” he said.

Don Rigby, executive director of the Wheeling-based Regional Economic Development Partnership, tried to relieve Miller’s concerns, emphasizing these problems would not burden county taxpayers.

“In the instance you are talking about, that is Moundsville Power’s problem,” Rigby said of a potential shutdown because of environmental standards.

Meanwhile, Daniel Spitzer, an attorney representing Moundsville Power, said the plant is part of the ongoing effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This plant is as state-of-the-art as you can get,” he said of the combined-cycle plant. “For those who want to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced, they have been reduced because of gas.”

Moundville Power Chief Financial Officer Matthew Dorn thanked the commission for the vote, and said the company plans to begin construction next year.

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