The Proposed Longview II Power Plant is Not Justified for Our Future!

by Diana Gooding on March 17, 2020

The Longview II PILOT shows taxes of $58 million rather than $275 million over 30 years

Proposed Longview power plant not as wonderful as promised

Letter by Adrienne Epley & Kurt Griebel, Morgantown Dominion Post, March 15, 2020

Longview Power proposes to construct a 1200 MW gas-fired power plant next to its existing coal-fired power plant near Fort Martin. It also proposes adding a 20 MW solar farm.

Longview also wants a Payment in Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Monongalia County. The proposed 30-year PILOT would reduce Longview’s property taxes by over $200 million. Longview advertises that this expansion will be environmentally friendly and will be good for our economy by creating construction jobs and demand for gas extraction.

A careful look shows this plant will not be environmentally friendly. The air pollution emissions include 282 tons of nitrogen oxides, 552 tons of VOCs, 175 tons of fine particulates and other pollutants as well as over 4 million tons of greenhouse gases. These emissions alone will exacerbate toxicity levels in our environment.

Additional environmental contaminants include, but are not limited to, the upstream pollution emissions associated with natural gas well drilling, pipelines and compressors. There are public health concerns associated with the upstream gas extraction and transportation, including pipeline safety, water contamination and radioactive waste(s).

Longview’s contribution to climate change is a serious concern. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that, to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, there must be rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — at least 50% reduction by 2030 and almost all fossil fuel emissions must end by 2050. Tax breaks for gas-fired power plants are not part of a solution to the climate crisis.

Longview also claims the plant would bring economic growth. While the plant will encourage growth in the gas extraction industry for now, this industry is one of the most capital-intensive there is. The majority of its investment goes to tools and machines, with comparatively little going to the workers.

Compare that to an investment in education. Education is the quintessential labor-intensive industry, where a huge portion of any spending goes toward creating jobs for teachers and school staff.

Longview ’s economic analyses assume that demand for electricity will continue to grow indefinitely but ignores the need to address climate change. If greenhouse gases are restricted in the future, then the proposed Longview plant would not be compliant. As renewable energy becomes cheaper, even gas-fired plants may not be competitive.

With its proposed PILOT, Longview would pay $58 million over a 30-year period, (approximately $2 million a year). Compare that to the estimated $200 million over 30 years that should be paid in taxes. If we do not hold Longview accountable for paying its fair share of taxes, the public would have to make up the difference. This would be in addition to the health care costs due to the detrimental environmental impact that it would have in our region.

We should invest money in clean energy alternatives or in our schools to improve the education of the next generation and ensure that they will have more opportunities. Building the proposed Longview power plant is a poor investment in our children. It robs them of their future. It denies them a habitable planet to live on. That is unacceptable.

The Monongalia County Commission should not support any new investment in fossil fuel infrastructure. However, if it wants to give a tax break to Longview, it should ensure that Longview does address its impact on the climate in a meaningful way.

>>> Adrienne Epley is the chair of the Monongahela Group of the Sierra Club and Kurt Griebel is its conservation chair.


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

The difference in PILOT payments and the estimated property taxes owed without the abatement is stark. The estimated tax abatement for the first Longview Power PILOT agreement is $457 million compared to $217 million for the second proposed PILOT agreement with Longview Power. Altogether, the property tax abatement over 30 operating years for both PILOTs is estimated to be $674 million. These estimates should be taken with caution because the assessed valuations of the property could vary significantly depending on the depreciation rate used for the property and capital improvements over time.

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