MOUNDSVILLE - A proposed $615 million natural gas power plant along W.Va. 2 in Marshall County would not impact operations at the Moundsville Country Club, according to club President David Buzzard.
Private development firm Moundsville Power LLC of Buffalo, N.Y., wants to generate 549 megawatts of electricity by burning about $105 million worth of natural gas per year along the Ohio River in Marshall County by 2018.
The planned 37.5-acre site lies between the Williams Energy fractionation plant and the country club, as developers hope to begin construction by early 2015.
Officials said the project's construction phase will create 400-500 part-time jobs, while about 30 full-time workers will run the proposed plant once it is operational.
Marshall County would end up owning the plant, under the proposed plan. The company would then lease the facility and land from the county to conduct its business.
The proposed development area once housed the Olin Chemical and Allied Chemical plants.
It is classified as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which the organization defines as an "abandoned place where hazardous waste is located." EPA records show that current owner, Honeywell, has been cleaning up the site for several years.
Noting the presence of the former chemical plants, Buzzard said he and fellow members at the club should not have many concerns if the power plant comes to fruition
"We met with the developers. They assured us they would do their best to be good neighbors," Buzzard said. "At this point, we don't have any immediate worries."
In operation since 1940, Buzzard said the club's close proximity to industrial plants is nothing new. He said officials will rely on the EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to ensure the area is safe.
"I think this could be an asset to the community," Buzzard added of the power plant.
As those who would be directly impacted by the plant's presence express support for it, elected officials throughout West Virginia did the same, following the proposed facility's announcement during last week's Marshall County Commission meeting.
"I am so pleased that Moundsville Power LLC decided to locate in Marshall County," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, said. "This $615 million energy and economic development investment is great news not only for Moundsville, but also for the Northern Panhandle and our entire state."
"For several years, we have worked hard to make the most of the increased energy production associated with the development of the Marcellus and Utica shales. The announcement by Moundsville Power is exciting news for the Mountain State," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. "This investment is an opportunity for our state to ensure the development of our natural resources resulting in good paying jobs created in West Virginia, for West Virginians."
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is also a candidate for U.S. Senate this year. She said the new plant shows the potential for natural gas in the Mountain State and the nation.
"Natural gas creates jobs, grows our economy and plays an important role in moving us toward energy independence. By putting Marcellus Shale gas to work here in West Virginia, we're creating a brighter future for our state and our country," Capito, a Marshall County native, said.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate this year, also praised the proposed natural gas facility.
"Plants like these are a critical part of a true all-of-the-above strategy that uses West Virginia energy to create West Virginia jobs," she said.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said the planned natural gas plant is a "positive step for our valley."
"Manufacturing throughout the country is starting to pick back up. They need electricity, so they can use the power from plants like this," he said.
Following approval by both the Marshall County Commission and the Marshall County Board of Education, Moundsville Power will have a Payment in Lieu of Tax agreement, instead of paying regular property taxes. Frohnapfel said the company would make a $4.2 million payment over 30 years.
The proposed natural gas plant would generate 549 megawatts of power. Planners said the facility will be a "combined-cycle" plant that will use natural gas to run one of its turbines, while using the exhaust heat from this process to drive an additional steam turbine. This means it would make use of what would otherwise be a waste product.
"What we are building is a facility that will bring living-wage jobs and long-term investment to Marshall County and the surrounding region," Andrew Dorn, managing partner with Moundsville Power, said."We are also creating an operation that demonstrates responsible use of West Virginia's natural resources and produces electricity in an extremely clean manner."