LONGVIEW POWER ISSUES: Combined Cycle Gas-Fired Electricity vs. Solar Electricity

by Duane Nichols on August 9, 2020

Cost of solar energy vs. natural gas fired electricity

Email Message from James Kotcon to Monongalia County Commissioners, August 8, 2020

Dear Monongalia County Commissioners:

Thank you again for the one hour meeting this past Wednesday, in which we discussed the proposed Longview II (natural gas) and Longview III (solar panels) power plants. It was helpful in understanding the process and some of the issues under consideration for PILOT agreements applicable to these two facilities.

PILOT agreements are “payments in lieu of taxes” which can be interpreted as tax abatement or avoidance for the power company. The Mon County Commission is an important agent for our future.

We had discussed costs of solar energy, and the link below is from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA). Tables 1a and 1b discuss the latest “Levelized Cost of Electricity” data for solar and other forms of energy (Feb. 2020). Solar consistently comes in cheaper than combined cycle gas plants, when accounting for existing tax credits.

The report also discusses “regional variability,” however, it is not clear how this applies to West Virginia. I am aware that Longview claims much higher costs for solar in their application, however, those data appear to be several years out of date. In addition, Longview has a history of underestimating the costs of fossil fuel facilities, whereas the cost of solar continues to decline each year.

I would certainly be interested in any recent estimates Longview might offer, or other sources you have to share.

The Energy Information Agency document can be found here:


>>> Jim Kotcon, Conservation Chair, WV Sierra Club

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Dan Gearino August 14, 2020 at 9:02 am

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