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  1. Longview Plans to Expand – Officials Seek to Build $1.1B Facility

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    Right now there are just wild flowers on the empty land next to the Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, just north of Morgantown. But that will change in just a few years. Longview officials are in the process of obtaining permits to construct a $1.1 billion Longview Power Clean Energy Center that will be one of the largest fully integrated power generation facilities in the region. The company said the plant is sorely needed in the state.

    Coal-fired electric power plants accounted for 92% of the state’s electric generation in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewable energy — like wind or hydroelectric-generated 5.3%, while natural gas provided 2.1%. “The average age of a coal plant in West Virginia is 45 years,” said Jeff Keffler, chief executive officer of Longview Power LLC, which opened eight years ago. “The writing is on the wall.” Indeed. Seven of the eight coal-fired plants are expected to be obsolete and could be retired in the next few years, hence Longview’s push to be up and running by 2023.

    The facility will be a combination gas and solar facility and be located next to Longview’s coal-fired plant, which the company said is one of the cleanest coal plants in the country. Adding gas and solar components is part of its overall business strategy, Longview officials said. “The choice was to invest in West Virginia,” Keffler said. “This will be a state-of-the-art facility.” This is a win-win. We are a West Virginia company, and we’re able to grow.” Longview officials recently took local Monongalia County representatives, union officials and news media on a tour of the current coal facility and updated the status of the project, announced last year.

    The plan

    Company officials said the expansion will be constructed with union labor. The gas portion of the project will be built first. When complete, it will be a 1,200-megawatt, natural gas-fired, combined-cycle gas turbine that will be adjacent to the coal plant. Marcellus shale gas will be used. Construction of the natural gas phase of the project is slated to begin sometime next year, with completion targeted for 2022. This phase of the project is expected to cost $925 million and could mean lower fuel costs for consumers in the coming years. The plant will employ up to 35 full and part-time workers at an annual payroll of nearly $2 million, according to Longview.

    The plan makes sense, energy experts said. “The fuel is plentiful,” James Wood, interim director of the Energy Institute at West Virginia University, said in an email. “The permitting process is less complicated and the capital and operating costs of the power plant are lower kW than coal, plus natural gas prices will be favorable for several years.

    The third phase of the project is the solar and carries a price tag of $76 million. Plans here call for the construction of 70-megawatt solar facility, 20 megawatts will be in West Virginia, while 50 megawatts will be  just over the Pennsylvania border in Greene County. It will be the first large-grade solar facility in West Virginia, the company said. Also, companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are looking to buy its electricity from renewable energy sources, Keffler said.

    The power produced by the gas and solar facilities when they come online — possibly by 2023 — will be sold the PJM Interconnection LLC, which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity through 13 states and the District of Columbia. Longview provides power to 500,000 homes in the PJM. “The reconfigured plant should dispatch ahead of the plant as it exists today,” Wood said.

    The impact

    Over the life of the plant, Longview agreed to pay Monongalia County $105 million in payments in lieu of taxes — PILOT. The expansion will add $58 million to the total. During the construction phase of the gas portion, nearly 5,000 jobs will be created, while the solar portion will generate 75 construction-related jobs. Longview said employee compensation should exceed $360 million. The economic impacts on the West Virginia economy associated with the first full year of operation of the gas plant are estimated at 618 full and part-time jobs, with $43 million in employee compensation.

    The solar plant, meanwhile, in its first year of operation is estimated to create 10 full and part-time jobs and $640,000 in employee compensation.  The plant will be constructed on reclaimed mine land. Kessler said Longview — owned by New York-based equity firm KKR & Co. Inc. — should have its permitting process finished in the next 12 months. Construction should begin right after that. Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a Democratic state delegate, from Monongalia County, toured the Longview plant and was updated on the plant expansion. “It’s important to me that union workers will be used,” she said. “I think this is exciting.


    Article by: Suzanne Elliott, The Dominion Post

  2. Job Creation, Clean Power Generator, Natural Gas Consumer

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    Longview Power has taken the next step to make it planned combined cycle gas-fired power plant a reality. The company announced late Thursday it has filed its application for a siting certificate to build the plant with the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Longview has dubbed the plant the Longview Power Clean Energy Center. It will be sited adjacent to the current coal-fired plant near Maidsville and will produce more energy: 1,200 megawatts compared to 710 MW for the coal plant. It will also include a 70 MW utility grade solar installation.

    Combined cycle means the gas powers a turbine, and waste heat is routed to a steam turbine to generate additional power. Longview Power President and CEO Jeff Keffer told gas industry representatives in July that coal-fired plant in Morgantown is the cleanest in the world and the most efficient in North America. But it’s probably the last of its kind. That’s why Longview is developing the gas-fired combined cycle plant. He said in Thursday’s announcement, “The Longview Power Clean Energy Center will be a global model for clean fossil and renewable energy development. This first-of-its-kind project will use regionally produced Marcellus gas and the solar facility will be one of the largest in Appalachia.

    Keffer said the project will cost $1.1 billion to construct and create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. Employee compensation will exceed $360 million. The facility will pay an additional $2 million annually in PILOT (payment in lieu of county property taxes) and tax payments, over and above the $3 million currently generated by the coal plant, the announcement said. Longview expects to add more than 30 additional skilled, high-paying power generation jobs to operate the expansion facilities.

    The coal plant generates enough electricity to power almost 700,000 homes, Longview said. Once the Clean Energy Center is fully operational, the combined facilities are expected to produce over 2,000 MW of electricity, serving nearly 2 million homes in northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. The solar facility will use over 185,000 solar panels on 300 acres and be one of the largest solar generation facilities in Appalachia, Longview said. It will be constructed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

    Keffer told the gas industry eps in May, “We’re really not in the coal business.” Longview’s business is energy conversion: using fuel to produce power; the fuel could be coal or gas or the sun. While the coal plant is the least expensive fossil fuel plant in the PJM regional network, the opportunity to build more coal-fired plants like it has passed, he said. The Trump administration undid the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, but took too long to rewrite the rules.

    So gas is the next wave, he said. It’s now the predominant fuel in the PJM network, making up about 38 percent of its total. And as expensive coal and nuclear plants close, a new generation of gas plants will be needed to supply the baseload. Several government officials included comments in Thursday’s announcement. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said, “In addition to all of the jobs and economic growth this project creates, it also positions West Virginia as a world leader when it comes to producing electricity in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner while proving that coal and gas will continue to power America for decades to come. It’s the perfect example of how our state continues to contribute to our national all-of-the-above energy strategy.

    Sen. Joe Manchin, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “In 2017, I brought U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to tour Longview Power because I wanted to show him the innovative work being done in West Virginia. I have always supported an all-of-the-above energy policy and am confident West Virginia workers will achieve this at Longview.” And Gov. Jim Justice said, “I’ve said many times that we need to be an ‘all-in’ energy state here in West Virginia. The more ways we are able to use our abundant resources, the more we will be able to build on the momentum we’re already seeing in our economy and this kind of complete commitment is exactly what we need to truly put West Virginia on the map.

    The announcement arrived after hours and The Dominion Post was unable to reach the appropriate Longview officials or the PSC to learn about the site certificate process.


    Article by David Beard, The Dominion Post