Public Concern Mounts Over Low Tax Rate for 2nd Longview Power Plant

by admin on January 10, 2020

“it’s not easy being green”

Green groups protest proposed new Longview Power plants

From an Article by David Beard, Morgantown Dominion Post, January 6, 2020

MORGANTOWN — Some members of the green community assembled on the Courthouse Square Monday afternoon to protest the proposed construction of two new Longview Power plants – one gas-fired, one solar.

The Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and the West Virginia Sierra Club chapter put on the press conference and timed it to precede a Public Service Commission public hearing on the proposed plants to be held inside the Courthouse.

Duane Nichols, with the Coalition, who lives in Stewartstown said the impacts of the current coal-fired Longview plant and its coal-fired neighbor, Fort Martin, can be seen for miles: The steam plumes block sunshine and affect the weather in that area.

And less than 40% of the fuel energy burned is converted to electrical energy generated, he said. The rest escapes as waste heat. Along with that, “the tonnage of carbon dioxide day after day is adding to that atmosphere.”

The daily truck traffic serving the plant, he said, also creates a nuisance for residents in the area of the plant, over 300 loaded coal trucks per day going up the long Ft. Martin hill.

Longview Power is negotiating a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement for the two plants with Monongalia County that would provide the county with about $58.2 million across 30 years. Jarryd Powell, with the Greater Morgantown Sunrise Movement, sited a report from the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy to highlight what he sees as a flawed agreement.

The WVCBP report says that Mon County would be giving up about $217 million in additional property taxes from alternate, fully taxed uses of the property – which Longview owns.

Powell said, “These $217 million could address green energy investment, improved healthcare, education, infrastructure and many other important issues in Mon County. … This measure simply appears to be a private entity extorting Mon County residents over their rightful tax dollars and preying on our desperation for jobs.”

Jonah Kone, also with Sunrise, focused on the environmental impacts. “In 30 years, I would like to live and work on a healthy planet.”

Lira Reins, with the West Virginia healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said the PILOT will provide less value to the county that the current Longview and Fort Martin PILOTs. The new PILOT would from $1.5 million to $2.5 million per year, while the current Longview PILOT brings in about $3.5 million and Fort Martin about $3.4 million.

Jim Kotcon, Sierra Club conservation chair, said Longview II – the gas-fired plant — will emit 4 million tons of greenhouse gases per year “That’s 4 million tons that will continue to warm the climate.”

Also, he said, there’s no need for the electricity it will produce. “Our region is already dramatically oversupplied with electricity.” He cited testimony to that effect submitted to the PSC. “If demand is not going up and supply increases, somebody’s going away.” Other speakers suggested Fort Martin might be the plant that would fall victim.

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See also: PILOT Agreements Cost State Millions in Tax Revenue: An In-Depth Look at Longview Power Plant, Ted Boettner, WV Center on Budget & Policy, October 15, 2019

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