Brooke County WV Power Plant Wins State Approval

Last September none other than West Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce, Woody Thrasher, admitted publicly that his beloved state is decidedly 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. And that has to change. Pressure from the coal industry and regulatory red tape are preventing new projects from happening. A few years ago it seemed as though a project in Marshall County was ready to begin construction (see Progress for 3 WV NatGas Electric Plants; 1 Breaks Ground in 2016). However, that project is stalled–perhaps even dead (according to rumors we’ve heard). Last week there was a sliver of light when Harrison County commissioners voted to pass a resolution supporting a long-delayed gas power plant project there (see Harrison County, WV Commissioners Vote to Help Delayed Elec Plant). And now, finally, some sunshine breaks through! A power plant project in Brooke County, WV (same developers, Energy Solutions Consortium or ESC) received a siting certificate approval from the WV Public Service Commission. This is a good sign. Finally, a power plant project in WV that is moving forward…
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WV’s Northern Panhandle Sits in the Shale Catbird Seat

The Northern Panhandle of West Virginia is doubly blessed. The Panhandle is four counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall. Some add a fifth–Wetzel County. The first four counties in the list sit in a slice of real estate located between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Panhandle currently produces 38% of WV’s natural gas production, and nearly 70% of its oil production. That’s the first blessing–good rock sits under those counties. The second blessing is the panhandle’s location between PA and OH. On one side, sitting just a few minutes away, is the mighty Shell ethane cracker plant, currently under construction in Monaca (Beaver County, PA). On the other side, also just a few minutes away, sits the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker site in Dilles Bottom (Belmont County, OH). The second blessing is this: many petrochemical and manufacturing companies will build, even relocate, their operations to take advantage of the raw materials that will come from both cracker plants. And guess where many of them will choose to locate? Yep–right smack in the middle, which is where the Northern Panhandle happens to be–sitting in the catbird seat…
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How Soon Will WV See Chinese Money? “Immediately” Says Official

Last week’s big news that China committed to invest $83.7 billion in shale and petrochemical projects in West Virginia continues to reverberate (see China Agrees to Invest Amazing $83.7 BILLION in WV Shale, Petchem). Almost as soon as the deal was announced, so-called experts came out of the swamp to say, “Won’t ever happen, ain’t a big deal, move along, nothing to see here.” Such was how Bloomberg reported it (see Why $84 Billion From China Can’t Buy a U.S. East Gas Hub), and how the sometimes-swamp dwelling Wall Street Journal reported it (see A U.S. Natural-Gas Bonanza in China Isn’t a Done Deal). Such is the irrational hatred of Donald Trump and anyone who supports him, like WV Gov. Jim Justice. This is a time for celebration. The Chinese are sending money HERE, instead of the other way around, as it has been under Lord Obama and presidents going back for decades. Yet the swamp dwellers attempt to throw excrement on the good news. Let them. They expose themselves for the shallow, leftist shills they are. Here’s an important question on everyone’s mind: When will Chinese money begin to flow for some of these projects? The answer, according to WV Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, is “immediately”–meaning within the next six months when ground will be broken on one, possibly two, natural gas-fired electric plants in the state. Below are insights into when the state will see the money, how the money will get distributed, and how this deal actually came together in the first place…
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Weirton, WV Tries to Interest the Chinese in a Cracker Plant

The early bird catches the worm. Not even a day had gone by when Patrick Ford, the executive director of the Weirton-based Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, piped up and signaled China that Weirton would be a great place to locate an ethane cracker plant. Ford said Weirton sits roughly halfway between Shell’s cracker plant under construction, and a planned cracker plant by PTT Global in Belmont County, OH. Weirton was considered for both of those projects but apparently there was an issue getting enough contiguous acreage for a large-scale project like a cracker. However, Ford says those issues are now resolved and Weirton is open for cracker business. Ford told a reporter, “We want to see a third ethane cracker in this region — and it should be in Brooke or Hancock County” (note that Weirton straddles both). We like Weirton’s plucky opportunism. Businesses and projects in WV should not sit on their hands. Get that Chinese money and get it quick, before it disappears into someone else’s pocket!…
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WV Builder Tells PSC Power Plant Can Burn Methane AND Ethane

Energy Solutions Consortium, aka the father and son team of Andrew and Matthew Dorn–have been trying to build a 750 megawatt natural gas-fired electric plant in Follansbee (Brooke County), WV for years. In fact, the Dorns have a number of gas-fired electric plant projects on the board for WV, and have since 2015 (see Big News: 3 More Marcellus-Powered Electric Plants Coming to WV). However, the regulatory environment in WV creeps along, like molasses, and none of the projects are even under construction–yet. Last month WV’s Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher said WV is downright unfriendly to electric plant projects (see WV Sec Commerce Says State Unfriendly to Gas-Fired Power Plants). Never a truer word spoken. Yesterday Andrew Dorn was in Charleston to testify before the state Public Service Commission about his company’s plans for the Follansbee plant. One of his comments caught our eye. The plant will be able to flip back and forth between burning methane and ethane, depending on the price. Dorn said his dual-fuel plant will give drillers in the region an outlet to sell their ethane, in case they can’t sell ethane to a cracker plant…
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Coal Supporters Still Trying to Stop WV NatGas Electric Plants

The West Virginia Public Service Commission will host a public hearing tomorrow on a proposed power plant in Brooke County, WV. The 750-megawatt Marcellus-fired electric plant will be built by Energy Solutions Consortium–the father and son team of Andrew and Matthew Dorn (based in Buffalo, NY). The Dorns are currently building another gas-fired plant–in Marshall County (see Progress for 3 WV NatGas Electric Plants; 1 Breaks Ground in 2016). In addition to Marshall and Brooke, the Dorns plan to build a third plant in Harrison County. The locals are on board with this project, which will generate millions in tax revenue and put some 400 people to work during construction. In March the Brooke County Commission and Brooke County Board of Education approved a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the project–meaning the plant will pay out $27.3 million to the county over 30 years. However, as has happened in the past, some misguided folks who advocate for (and work in) the coal industry are opposing the project. They think gas-fired electric plants will lead to layoffs in the coal industry…
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Progress in Building $9M Natgas Valve Manuf Plant in WV

In January MDN told you that Italian company Pietro Fiorentini had signed paperwork to buy land to build a $9 million factory in Weirton, WV (see Italian Co. Building $9M Natgas Valve Manufacturing Plant in WV). The company will manufacture pressure regulators and valves for the natural gas industry at the site. One big problem: The site is a former surface coal mine and before they can build, they first must be cleaned up (“remediated”) to prevent exposure to metals in groundwater. Pietro Fiorentini and the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) filed a cleanup plan. That plan has been accepted by the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). After the site is cleaned up, construction will begin on the new manufacturing plant…
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WV Northern Panhandle Sees Econ Revival with Nearby Cracker Proj

It seems the northern panhandle area of West Virginia is sitting in the catbird seat. The geography of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties sits in between Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA on one side, and the proposed PTT Global Chemical cracker plant in Belmont County, OH on the other side. The PTT plant is not yet official, but is certainly looking that way. The next “gold rush” for states including PA, OH and WV are manufacturing plants that use the output from the cracker plants. And the northern panhandle, being between both locations, is getting a lot of interest and attention…
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Italian Co. Breaks Ground on $5.5M Natgas Valve Manuf Plant in WV

Artist’s rendering of what Pietro Fiorentini will look like – click for larger version

In January, MDN told you about Italian company Pietro Fiorentini and their plans to build a factory in Weirton, WV (see Italian Co. Building $9M Natgas Valve Manufacturing Plant in WV). Since 2013, the company has warehoused and sold pressure regulators and valves for the natural gas industry out of rented office space in Wheeling, WV. Pietro Fiorentini actually manufactures the equipment they sell and for the past 4 1/2 years has held an option to purchase land in the Weirton Three Springs Business Park. In January the company committed to building a factory on the Weirton site to manufacture the equipment they sell. Eventually the manufacturing plant will employ 150 people. A week and a half ago, Pietro Fiorentini broke ground at the site, on a new $5.5 million, 100,000 square foot building. They expect the plant to be up and running next spring…
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Statoil WV Tax Overpayment Court Case – Money “Already Gone”

Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000 (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argued that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases went (see Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts). A hearing was held last Friday in the case. There’s not much in the way of new news to report, other than Statoil wants the cases combined and the counties would prefer to keep the cases separate. The other bit of information is that the overpayments were spent about as quickly as they were received, and the counties are expressing angst over where they will find the money to issue a refund check, should the court case(s) go against them…
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Italian Co. Building $9M Natgas Valve Manufacturing Plant in WV

Italian company Pietro Fiorentini has been, since 2013, warehousing and selling pressure regulators and valves for the natural gas industry out of rented office space in Wheeling, WV. Pietro Fiorentini actually manufactures the equipment they sell and for the past four years has held an option to purchase land in the Weirton, WV Three Springs Business Park. The company has just gotten off the pot and on Tuesday officials signed the paperwork to buy the land. Pietro Fiorentini will build a $9 million factory on Weirton site to manufacture the equipment they sell. Eventually the manufacturing plant will employ 150 people…
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WV Social Worker Claims Marcellus Drilling Causes Homelessness

Lisa Badia, executive director of the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless “can’t be certain how many homeless people dwell in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties,” but she is certain that part (much?) of the homeless problem is caused by Marcellus/Utica Shale drilling. Yep, sinking a hole in the ground causes homelessness. How? According to Badia, when drilling came to town 4-5 years ago, a bunch of out-of-staters showed up to work on drilling rigs (and for pipeline companies, etc.). Those out-of-staters began paying sky-high rental rates for apartments and trailers, driving up the price of rental housing throughout the region. And when that happened, folks on welfare could no longer afford to pay the rent (with our taxpayer money). If it’s a decision between booze and cigs or rent, you know what goes! So those po’ folk ended up sleeping on heating grates–because of that nasty, awful fossil fuel drilling…
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Statoil’s Tax Overpayment Cases Bounced Back to WV County Courts

StatoilStatoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000. The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. All four counties voted to deny Statoil’s request, so Statoil took them to court, asking the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the case. However, the Appeals court has just ruled that the cases are not “complex” and don’t require “special treatment,” so back to county court the cases will go…
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Progress for 3 WV NatGas Electric Plants; 1 Breaks Ground in 2016

energy-solutions-consortium-logo-1In April 2014 MDN brought you the exciting news that a father and son team, Andrew and Matthew Dorn (based in Buffalo, NY) would build a 549-megawatt electric generating plant, powered by Marcellus Shale, in Moundsville (Marshall County), WV (see Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Coming to Marshall County, WV). The Dorns, who later named their company Energy Solutions Consortium, announced in March 2015 plans to build more plants in WV (see Big News: 3 More Marcellus-Powered Electric Plants Coming to WV). We have an update on the progress for all of the plants the Dorns want to build in the Mountain State–with a massive $2 billion investment. The short version: all projects are progressing nicely, and the Marshall County project will break ground this year…
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4 WV Counties Refuse to Grant Statoil $6.6 Million in Tax Refunds

lawsuitBrooke County, WV makes it four for four in denying Statoil’s request to refund tax overpayments made by the company. Statoil, based in Norway, is a big player in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale. Statoil paid property taxes to Brooke, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties (all in WV) in 2015 and later found, during an audit/review, that they had overpaid those counties. They overpaid Brooke by $1.8 million, Ohio by $2.9 million, Wetzel by $1.6 million and Marshall by $342,000. We previously reported on Marshall’s refusal to refund the money (see Statoil Wants Millions in Refunds from Tax Overpayments in WV). The WV Tax Department argues that Statoil “acted negligently” and exercised “poor judgment” in not finding the mistake sooner. With Brooke’s refusal, all four counties have now voted to deny Statoil’s request. Statoil is (so far) taking Marshall and Ohio counties to court, suing them for refunds. They are “assessing…options” with respect to suing Wetzel and Brooke. You can bet your bottom dollar they will…
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