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Marshall County Commissioners, Residents Butt Heads Over Proposed Natural Gas Plant in Moundsville

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MOUNDSVILLE - The fate of a multi-million dollar project in Marshall County is unclear as both commissioners and residents are butting heads over several issues that come with the possibility of a proposed natural gas power plant, Moundsville Power LLC.

Some people see the glass as half full. 

"Well, as long as they bring jobs to here, you know," said Jeffrey Dougherty of Moundsville. "People's kids get to stick around who went to school."

Robin Dierkes of Glen Dale agrees. "I think it'd bring a lot of jobs in," Dierkes said. "My husband is a coal miner and a generator mechanic, and that's pretty easy to get a job there if the coal industry fell through." 

Marshall County Commissioner Brian Schambach said the plant is a good opportunity for the community. "If everything else works out in our due diligence process to bring in hundreds of construction jobs, $800 million dollars in revenue as far as impact to the county, and a long term clean energy facility," Schambach said.

Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller, however, said he has a few concerns. Miller released a statement on June 29, describing his concerns, which include liability, competition, taxes, and what the county owns.

"Our founding fathers, one of the big things was free market," Miller said. "Government does not own private business." 

Miller wants to make sure that everyone knows he's not against  a natural gas plant generating electricity. 

"I am in favor of the plant, just against the pilot agreement and county ownership," he said.

However, Commissioner Schambach said he believes that won't be a problem. 

"We would not own it, but we would just take the title to it and that would help abate some taxes to Moundsville Power," he said.

During an April 29 meeting of the Marshall County Commission, members adopted a resolution approving the financial terms of a proposed lease agreement between the commission and Moundsville Power LLC. On April 22, both the commission and the Marshall County Board of Education approved the terms of a Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement, or PILOT, for the proposed power plant. According to a news release from Moundsville Power, the proposed lease agreement was necessary to facilitate the PILOT agreement, which would give the Marshall County Commission the title to the plant during the term of the lease agreement and the commission would lease the plant to Moundsville Power.

"Moundsville Power will be responsible for the maintenance, operation and insuring of the plant," the news release reads. "The Marshall County Commission will be fully indemnified and insured by Moundsville Power for any liability respecting the plant."