Brooke County residents air concerns in Colliers meeting about proposed gas power plant
COLLIERS — The pews of Cross Creek United Presbyterian Church were filled Thursday evening with people who had questions about plans to build a natural gas-fired power plant not far away.
John Black, project engineer for Energy Solutions Consortium Brooke County Power I — the company planning to build the plant at 170 Quinn Lane — discussed steps needed to complete the plant and fielded questions about its environmental impact.
Black said the plant will comply with federal and state environmental regulations and efforts will be made to reduce its impact on residents in the rural area near Cross Creek, Tent Church and Eldersville roads.
“We are going to be good neighbors. We are going to be good stewards of the land,” Black told those attending the meeting called by ESC to inform the public about the project.
His reassurance didn’t console Donna Paules, who said her home is a tenth of a mile from the proposed site of the plant near the Cross Creek Wildlife Management Area and Pennsylvania state line.
“I don’t think I got the answers I was looking for,” said Paules, who was among several wearing red and black T-shirts bearing a No Crossing logo with a power plant behind it and the words “Not in My Backyard.”
Paules said she’s concerned about air pollution from the plant.
Following the meeting, Black said projected emissions for the plant are at 10 to 29 percent of those from the Mountain State Carbon plant in Follansbee or AEP Cardinal Plant in Brilliant.
Earlier Black said hazardous materials and greenhouse gases will be expelled through two 180-foot tall stacks, to dissipate into the air.
He said the type of plant is known for its ability to burn fuel more cleanly, and residents won’t see smoke or steam emanating from the stacks, though they may observe heat ripples at times.
Black noted the company must secure a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Quality and a siting certificate from the West Virginia Public Service Commission, which will cover various environmental factors. He noted those entities will hold public hearings while reviewing the applications.
Black said pending approval of the permits in about a year, construction of the plant will occur over 32 months and its completion is eyed for January 2021.
Black said natural gas for the plant will be drawn from the Rover interstate pipeline north of Burgettstown and an on-site gas well. He showed pictures of Fieldcrest, Pine and Abbey lanes and Eldersville and Tent Church roads on which an outline of the proposed plant was superimposed. He noted areas where a view of the plant would be obstructed by trees or the surrounding terrain with the exception of part of the stacks in a few cases.
He and other ESC officials said a row of about 400 trees that keep their foliage year-round will be planted between the plant and Quinn Lane. A hill is on the other side of the proposed plant’s site.
Black said though large turbines will be in use, insulation and other measures will keep noise levels at about 55 decibels, lower than his speaking voice.
He said as an air-cooled power plant, the facility will use less water than other power plants — about 90 gallons per minute compared to 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per minute by those that use water for cooling.
Some residents expressed concern about the capacity of an existing water line to serve them and the plant.
Black said the company will upgrade the line if needed and it won’t affect water pressure for other water customers.
Asked about light from the plant at night, Black said little lighting will be needed unless the Federal Aviation Administration requires the company to post lights on the stacks. He said that’s normally not required for those less than 200 feet tall.
Black said much of the plant will arrive in 40 large components produced by General Electric, to be assembled on site.
He said trucks will use state Route 18 in Pennsylvania and Eldersville and Tent Church roads during construction, with traffic timed around school bus routes. The condition of the roads will be recorded before and after the project and “has to be as good or better when construction is done,” it was noted
When construction is completed, land not occupied by the plant will be reclaimed and revegetated.
Plans don’t call for the plant to serve the community directly, so a resident asked about how local residents will benefit.
Black noted the Brooke County Commission and school board have approved in-lieu-of tax agreements calling for the ESC to pay $1 million in the first year of the plant’s operation and $600,000 per year for the next 30 years. Asked if that amounts to a tax reduction, county Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said it does, but the estimated value of the plant will be $800 million when it’s completed. He said the plan is to use the boost in property tax to lower levy rates for the county’s taxpayers.
Black said about 400 workers will build the plant, and the company has signed an agreement with the West Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council to use local laborers. He said the plant will employ about 30 and involve another 170 in support services.
Some residents asked why the plant won’t be built at another site, such as an industrial area.
Black said a Beech Bottom property was considered but the owner wasn’t interested in selling. He said a Follansbee site also was eyed but the point of interconnection with a power grid operated by the Pennsylvania Jersey Maryland Interconnection was moved from that area.
The plant’s future is pending approval by the PJM Interconnection, which oversees electric transmission to 13 states and the District of Columbia.