First WV Natural Gas Power Plant Set for Harrison County

by S. Tom Bond on April 17, 2019

ESC Harrison Power Plant conceptual layout

Construction of WV’s first gas-fired power plant to start this summer

From an Article by Charles Young, WV News, April 13, 2019

CLARKSBURG — Following several years of planning, the developers of a natural-gas-fired power plant planned for a site in Clarksburg’s Montpelier Addition hope to begin construction this summer.

The plant will be West Virginia’s first gas-fired facility. A firm date for the start of construction has not been set and will depend on factors like weather and the finalization of agreements with local entities like the Clarksburg Water Board and the Sanitary Board. Developers expect work to begin in June or July.

The Harrison County Power Plant, a project of Energy Solutions Consortium and Caithness Energy, will be an approximately 630-megawatt generation facility, which is enough electricity to power approximately 425,000 homes, according to project representatives.

During the plant’s construction phase, which is expected to take around 24 months, the plant will support 400 jobs and will rely on local union laborers. Developers are aiming for an estimated in-service date of November 2021.

The company estimates the annual overall economic impact of the plant will be about $880 million, and it is expected to provide up to 30 permanent, well-paid positions during the plant’s operating life.

Todd Waldrop, project director, attended the Clarksburg Water Board’s March 12 meeting and asked its members to consider an alternate main water line extension agreement between the utility and the company. Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the Water Board would serve as the sole supplier of water to the power plant through a dedicated main line, Waldrop said. “We want to construct the lateral for the line from North Ohio Avenue up to the fence line of where the facility will be,” he said. “It’s about a 2,500-foot run.”

The power plant is expected to require an average of around 80 gallons per minute. Energy Solutions Consortium would foot the bill for construction of the main line and would build it to “the Water Board’s standards,” Waldrop said.

Power plant developers also met with representatives of the Clarksburg Sanitary Board on March 12 and pitched a similar agreement for sanitary services via an alternate mainline sewer extension agreement. Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe, who also serves as chairman of the Sanitary Board, said the board’s members are considering the agreement but have yet to take action.

“This is a very significant project to Harrison County and the region,” he said. “The city is fortunate to be in the position that allows for this development to occur. Without continued investment in our infrastructure, the opportunity would most likely not be able to proceed further.”

John Black, vice president of development for the power plant project, said finalization of these two agreements is “critical.”

“It’s a very stingy plant. It doesn’t use very much water at all. Originally, we had proposed taking it out of the river, but the Clarksburg Water Board and the Clarksburg Sanitary Board were able to meet that supply,” he said. “I think that’s a much better situation for the environment because we’re using water that the city is already producing and we are putting it back in the sewer.”

John Wanalista, director of engineering and project management, said developers are still in the middle of negotiations with the project’s potential contractor. “We’re still in negotiations with an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor,” he said. “We’re not at liberty to indicate who that is at this point.”

Even if the water and sewer agreements aren’t fully finalized by the time the contractor is ready to begin work, there are other alternatives, Wanalista said. “If water and sewer are not there on Day One, there are other ways to obtain the waters that are needed,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of water needed during the initial stages of construction.”

During a recent meeting, Water Board General Manager Dick Welch said installing a temporary water line to supply the project would take less than a “day or so.”

While some residents may have concerns about the construction of a power plant in Montpelier Addition, the project will be much smaller and much less visible than other area facilities, like the Harrison Power Station or the Longview Power Plant near Maidsville, Black said. This is because both of those facilities are coal-fired facilities, while the Clarksburg plant will utilize locally produced natural gas, Black said.

For example, the emission stacks on the Longview Plant are over 800 feet tall, Black said. “Ours are less than 200 feet,” he said. “And there are typically no visible emissions out of ours. Where we are, tucked back in that hollow, our stack won’t even exceed the ridge line. Our footprint is smaller than a coal-powered (plant).”


Energy Solutions Consortium also has plans in the works for a second gas-powered facility in Brooke County. Its Brooke County Power will be a 830 megawatt natural gas power plant capable of powering the equivalent of 700,000 homes.

The $884 million facility is expected to consume $177.5 million worth of natural gas annually, supporting hundreds of jobs in the region associated with the natural gas industry, according to developers.

The facility will require up to 30 full-time and part-time employees. In addition to the jobs onsite, the project is expected to create 1,164 direct, indirect and induced jobs due to requirements for maintenance, supplies, fuel and other needed local services.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Kotcon April 21, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Please note that this is NOT West Virginia’s “First” natural gas-fired power plant. Several peaking plants currently operate in the state.

Also, if the company is “still negotiating” with and EPC contractor, it seems very unlikely that they will begin work by June or July.

Finally, the smokestack (single, not “stacks”) at the Longview plant is ~554 feet tall, not 800.

If the “Vice President for Development” at this company continues to make such obvious errors, it seems they are destined for more errors which will likely lead to more delays.

I would urge the reporter and headline writer (not to mention the Clarksburg Water Board officials) to fact-check their statements, it is more than a little embarrassing.

Jim Kotcon


Duane Nichols April 21, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Ruling clears way for gas-fired power plants in W.Va.

From the Associated Press, November 6, 2018

West Virginia could be getting its first large power plant fired by natural gas now that the state Supreme Court of Appeals has turned down a request to overturn a decision by the Public Service Commission allowing the plant to be built.

In a 5-0 decision filed Friday, the court allowed ESC Brooke County Power I LLC to continue with plans to build the 830-megawatt plant in Brooke County.

After several pages of comments on the specific laws involved in their decision, the five justices wrote, “Given the current economic condition of West Virginia, and Brooke County, in particular, it is apparent that the project will substantially and positively impact the state and local economies.”

Once it’s built, it will be the first step in West Virginia’s move to join other states in moving away from relying mainly on coal for its baseline power needs and toward cleaner and less expensive natural gas.

The word “irony” is too often overused or misused, but in this case it fits. ESC Brooke County Power I plans to build its plant on 20 acres of a former coal mine site that is now owned by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The company will lease the land for $19 million over a 30-year period and pay the DNR an additional $1 million at the closing of the project’s financing.

Construction is expected to cost $884 million.

The plant in Brooke County would be larger than the Ceredo Generating Station and the Big Sandy Peaker Plant, both in Wayne County, but smaller than the 1,430-megawatt Hanging Rock Energy Facility in Lawrence County, Ohio. As with Hanging Rock, the Brooke County plant would not be owned or operated by a utility. It will sell its power on the open wholesale market, where utilities can purchase it instead of relying solely on power produced by their own coal-fired plants.

That’s the way the electricity generating industry is moving these days. West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky have seen several coal-fired power plants close in recent years.

As a further sign of the shift in the industry, the Big Sandy Power Plant near Louisa, Ky., plant has been converted to gas. As things happen, the amount of coal moving out of the Big Sandy River is now about a quarter of what it was a few years ago, and several coal docks have closed or reduced operations. Meanwhile, with the converted Big Sandy plant and the nearby Riverside Generating plant plus the Big Sandy Peaker Plant, there are three gas-fired power plants along a river once dominated by coal docks servicing power plants.

For political and other reasons, West Virginia has been slow to make the move from gas-fired power to coal-fired power for its baseline needs. Renewables and small gas-fired peaker plants can pick up the slack during times of heavy demand for power, but in this part of the country, coal and gas dominate.

The Brooke County decision could be the first of a wave of gas plants in West Virginia. Some companies that have serviced the coal mining industry have seen the writing on the wall and have begun servicing the gas industry as well.

West Virginia will rely on coal for several more years, but the trend toward gas does not appear to be slowing down. The shift to gas does not have to be an economic disaster for West Virginia as long as the private and public sectors accept it, embrace it and plan for it.



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