WV Close to Starting Construction on First Natgas-Fired Plant

For years Energy Solutions Consortium (ESC) has been trying to build several natural gas-fired electric plants in West Virginia, but have been prevented from doing so by Big Coal lawsuits. We recently wrote about this issue, naming names (see OVJA Exposed as Front for Murray Energy Blocking Gas-Fired Plants). It’s understandable that coal doesn’t want to give up its virtual monopoly on electric generation in the Mountain State. Some 95% of all electricity produced in the state comes from coal-fired plants. Last year then-WV Sec. of Commerce Woody Thrasher observed that Ohio has built 19 new gas-fired power plants, and Pennsylvania has built 22 new gas-fired power plants, while WV has built NONE. Why not? Because of Robert Murray, CEO and founder of Murray Energy, one of the largest independent coal mine operators in the U.S. Bob Murray is using a front organization called Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to file a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits that have kept all new gas-fired plant projects from being built in WV. The best chance ESC has in building its first gas-fired plant is in Harrison County. Only one roadblock remains–an OVJA challenge to the project’s air permit previously granted by the West Virginia Air Quality Board. Kind of ironic that Big Coal is challenging an air permit for far-cleaner-burning natural gas. Coal pollutes the air way more than natural gas. The WV Supreme Court hears challenges to these kinds of permits. The paperwork has been filed with the high court. Once the court accepts and hears the case, which ESC thinks will be early fall, and the air permit is upheld, the first shovel of dirt will fly to build the $880 million Harrison County Power Station. An ESC rep recently updated Harrison County officials and labor union members about the status of the project…

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