By CASEY JUNKINS
MOUNDSVILLE - After receiving additional information and assurances from Moundsville Power LLC after a Monday special meeting, Marshall County Commissioners Don Mason and Brian Schambach voted this morning to approve the Payment In Lieu of Tax agreement to facilitate construction of the $615 million natural gas electricity generator.
The vote was not unanimous, as Commissioner Bob Miller voted against the plan because he believes the $31 million in lease payments the county would receive over 30 years would be inadequate - and because he objects to government ownership of businesses.
"We thank the commission for their work and attention to detail," Moundsville Power Chief Financial Officer Matthew Dorn said after the 2-1 vote. "Our intention is to begin construction next year."
Audience members in the crowded commission room, consisting mostly of construction workers and those representing the plant, applauded Mason and Schambach following the approval.
During a special meeting Monday, commissioners listened as representatives of Moundsville Power, insurance companies and others spoke during a special meeting.
At the time, Mason said commissioners needed to have "all t's crossed and i's dotted" before proceeding to a vote on the 549-megawatt plant.
"I did not think we would vote today, but they got the t's crossed and the i's dotted," Mason said this morning regarding the vote.
"I think this is just the tip of the iceberg," Mason said of the development that could come to Marshall County because of its position in the heart of the giant Marcellus and Utica shale fields. "This can help us bring in even more jobs."
Moundsville Power Managing Partner Andrew Dorn said the company will burn about 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to generate electricity. He said the project would likely create 400 temporary construction jobs during the building phase and another 30 full-time jobs once it is operational.
The PILOT calls for the county to take official ownership of the natural gas power plant upon its completion for the sum of $1, while the company would pay the county about $31 million over 30 years. Although an outspoken opponent of the PILOT plan who voted against the project today, Miller said after the meeting that 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.
Daniel Spitzer, 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. For those who want to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced, they have been reduced because of gas."
Lee Reynolds is the global practice director for power and utilities for Oklahoma City-based Gallagher Energy. He said during the Monday meeting his firm serves as the insurance broker for the Moundsville Power project.
"We will cover the risks and exposures of Marshall County," he said. "We know this policy works and know it works well."
Reynolds said the insurance policy would protect county taxpayers from liability in the event of an environmental spill or blast, even if it is an act of "terrorism."