Will New WV Exec Order Speed Up Gas-Fired Power Plant Projects?

WV Gov. Jim Justice

Yesterday West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a new Executive Order (EO)–the third of his tenure thus far. The new EO cuts through regulatory red tape and instructs all WV governmental departments that issue permits to prioritize “permits for projects of critical economic concern.” That would include permits for Marcellus/Utica Shale projects. The EO requires agencies to issue written reports to the permit applicant, the executive director of the state Development Office, and to the Governor, explaining why they haven’t gotten off their rear-ends and acted on a given critical permit. As we read about this interesting development, it immediately struck us that we hope the EO also affects the permitting process for new natural gas-fired electric plants. Last September WV Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, admitted publicly that his beloved state is unfriendly to new natgas-fired electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). In a speech before state legislators, Thrasher said while Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, WV has built NONE. Zero. Nada. Even though perhaps a dozen such projects have been proposed. The first sliver of light in that respect came in February of this year when finally the very first such project in WV was approved by the Public Service Commission (see Brooke County WV Power Plant Wins State Approval). So when we read about the new EO signed by Justice, our thoughts didn’t jump to permits for shale wells, our thoughts turned to permits stalled for new electric power plant projects–which use Marcellus/Utica shale gas…

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