Charleston Gazette-Mail — By Joe Severino Staff writer – October 10, 2020
The Brooke County Power plant project is off, at least for now.
The company behind the project, Energy Solutions Consortium, announced Friday the project won’t be moving forward, for the time being.
“Due to changing conditions in the energy and financial markets, the company has decided that it is not prudent and in the best interest of all stakeholders, including the state, to move forward with the state’s lending and therefore will not complete the loan that was approved this summer,” the company said in a news release.
On Sept. 9, the West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved a $5.5 million loan guarantee for the project. Doubts over whether the authority would back the loan caused an uproar last month, when union and industry leaders claimed the coal industry was, again, actively trying to tank the Brooke County Power project. It would have brought West Virginia its first natural gas-fired power plant.
Officials are “evaluating alternative options to move forward,” the company release said.
Construction was expected to infuse $1.25 billion into the local economy on top of the facility’s annual economic impact, which was expected to top $440 million.
The project called for more than 1,000 construction workers to build the plant. Officials estimated the project would have created 1,164 jobs related to maintenance, supplies and other services, once finished.
Drew Dorn, president of Energy Solutions Consortium, said in the release that the mix of alleged coal industry interference and the project’s current financial reality doomed the plant.
“The external perception of a challenging climate in West Virginia has added to the difficult investment sector that changed drastically since the summer, when the project initially approached the state’s development authority about a loan guarantee,” Dorn said. “The loan was to fund a letter of credit that guaranteed the interconnection improvements that the grid would need for the construction of the new natural gas power plant.”
The company thanked officials in Brooke County, as well as business, industry and union groups across West Virginia that worked for years to get the plant constructed.