Moundsville Power Would Create Local Jobs

I am writing in response to Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller’s recent letter to the editor regarding the proposed $615 million Moundsville Power project.

First let me state my organization represents more than 500 construction workers who live in Marshall County, and 20,000 statewide. We fully expect to see hundreds of our members building the Moundsville Power project, which will result in a multi-million dollar payroll. In turn the wages earned will be spent in the local community creating more jobs and taxes.

Simply put – we are big supporters of the project that will employ our local workforce and allow our area to be more than the location where gas is extracted.

When Commissioner Miller wrote his letter in June, he most likely was unaware discussions were underway with local labor groups and representatives of Moundsville Power to put on paper their commitment to use local labor.

As I write this letter I can say such a document is drafted and only needs to be ratified.

This project is a big deal and these commitments to local hiring are more than words, they are backed up in writing.

So when Commissioner Miller writes that he assumes very few local construction workers will be employed by the project he assumed incorrectly and I hope to set the record straight.

I would also like to comment on the use of a “payment in lieu of property tax” (PILOaT) arrangement the county commission is contemplating.

Not only is this a critical part to the project’s success, it is common practice in the state.

In fact in my 22 years working for West Virginia construction workers, I can think of very few projects that did not use a PILOT arrangement.

I can recite a long list of projects that used PILOT’s like Weyerhaeuser, Trus-Joist McMillan, Quad Graphics, Macy’s, Georgia Pacific, Essroc, and more.

Power companies like AEP, Dominion, Constellation Power and every wind project in the state have also used it because these are projects with heavy equipment costs and the property tax bills are much higher than most other business sectors.

And even where a few of those projects have run into trouble and filed bankruptcy, such as Longview Power in Monongalia County or Big Sandy Peaker in Wayne County, the County was never held responsible for any debt or other liability of the project.

We urge Commissioner Miller to rethink his position and we certainly appreciate Commissioners Don Mason and Brian Schambach for their willingness to support a much needed job creator for Marshall County.

White is director of Affiliated Construction Trades.