MAIDSVILLE, W.Va – Imagine coal, natural gas and solar power; producing energy side by side, in one facility.
Longview Power, a coal-powered plant, is planning to create just that by adding natural gas and solar facilities to their Monongalia County facility. The company already provides enough power to supply over half a million homes during the winter.
The coal plant alone cost more than $2 billion, which was the largest private investment in West Virginia history and came online in 2011.
“We sit here in the middle of this vast sea of gas because of the Marcellus Gas Reserve, one of the most robust gas reserves in the world and it’s a real opportunity to utilize an abundant fuel,” CEO Jeff Keffer said.
Longview, Keffer explained, is the most efficient coal plant in North America and one of the cleanest. He said that his team has accomplished that through their use of cutting edge technologies. Keffer said he wants to translate their experience and the use of such technologies to the two new additions.
The plant sits on the state line of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where a majority of the solar panels will be placed. Keffer said that is because Pennsylvania has the legal incentives in place to make paying for the panels possible.
The company is still in the phase of acquiring permits in order to begin construction and said they expect that process to be done in the next year. After that, they will enter the financing stage.
Longview is anticipating it will be a major undertaking, costing roughly $1.1 billion and creating 5,000 direct and indirect construction jobs.
The construction will be union operated, which is exciting for the local union workers. Dan Ferguson, the president and business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 292 based in Clarksburg said it would be a great opportunity for the community.
“I’m tickled to death,” he said. “Right now we have a lot of guys that are working out of town it’s going to give them that chance to come home to work. 30 to 36 months is the outlook, you know it’s construction, it’s up and down, we’re used to traveling but if you can stay home you want to stay home, so the area needs the shot.”
After the construction, Keffer said the company expects to add on an additional 30 employees, bringing the total operational sum of plant staff to 180.
Best case scenario, Keffer said he expects the plant to be in operation by 2023, with the solar portion being fully operational by 2024.
“It’ll be something that I think West Virginia should be very proud of,” Keffer said.