CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has approved the Brooke County Power Project for a direct loan to help bring the natural gas plant closer to reality.

According to the West Virginia Department of Commerce, the board of directors of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority on September 9 approved a direct loan of $ 5.5 million to the Energy Solutions Consortium Brooke County Power project.

“We look forward to the potential of this project to further diversify and grow West Virginia’s energy economy,” Ed Gaunch, cabinet secretary at the Commerce Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Energy Solutions Consortium was seeking a $ 5.6 million loan guarantee from the Economic Development Authority for the proposed natural gas-fired power plant, but the Economic Development Authority felt that a direct loan would be a better plan. action for the project. Drew Dorn, CEO of Energy Solutions Consortium, said he viewed the loan as a sign of the state’s good faith.

“Brooke County Power appreciates the confidence the West Virginia Economic Development Authority has placed in this important project – which will become the largest downstream user of natural gas in Mountain State,” he said.

When completed, the 830 megawatt merchant power plant could supply power to up to 700,000 homes and sell electricity to PJM Interconnection’s 13-state wholesale power market. According to the project’s website, construction of the plant would create 1,164 direct and indirect jobs and 30 full-time jobs when completed.

Steve White, director of affiliated construction trades, said the loan approval came as “Great relief”.

“We have worked hard to support this project and that means close to $ 100 million in salaries and benefits for local construction” White said by phone Tuesday.

The plant is expected to have an economic impact of $ 1.25 billion for West Virginia during the construction phase and an economic impact of $ 440 million per year for Brooke County and surrounding areas. It would provide $ 1 million in payment in lieu of taxes to Brooke County, with $ 433,000 in annual payments to the Brooke County Commission and $ 167,000 to the County School Board.

The plant would be supplied with natural gas from a pipeline crossing southwestern Pennsylvania connected to the Rover Pipeline, which delivers natural gas to Canada from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Energy Solutions Consortium says the plant will need $ 177.5 million per year in natural gas.

The plant was supported by natural gas trading groups, as well as the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is delighted to see the West Virginia Economic Development Authority grant a loan … for ESC Brooke County Power,” said Brian Dayton, vice president of policy and advocacy for the chamber. “This project illustrates the kind of downstream investment we are looking for in our state’s vast natural gas resources.

“In addition, the support of the Brooke County Commission, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association and the Affiliated Construction Trades is very important to us as we all work together for the success of a power plant using local labor. and local natural gas ”, Dorn said.

The project came under further scrutiny after Governor Jim Justice – whose private coal companies supply and sell coal to power plants – asked the Economic Development Authority to review the Brooke County Power project, wondering why the plant needed the loan, where the manpower needed to build the plant would come from, and which state would provide the natural gas. The West Virginia Coal Association – which backed Justice’s gubernatorial re-election campaign – also criticized the project for endangering the jobs of coal miners. Neither the charcoal association nor the justice system were available for comment on Tuesday.

(Adams can be contacted at [email protected])

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