What would be West Virginia’s largest natural gas-fired power plant has moved another step forward after Longview Power LLC announced late Thursday that it has filed an application with the state Public Service Commission for a siting certificate to construct and operate a 1,200 MW facility.
Longview Clean Energy Center would be on property next to a 710 MW coal-fired power plant that the company also owns in Monongalia County. The new facility would use gas produced in the region to power its turbines and cost about $1.1 billion to construct, according to the company. Both facilities combined would provide enough power to serve nearly two million homes.
Longview would sell power into PJM Interconnection, the grid operator serving all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia, including shale-rich Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The new gas-powered facility also includes plans for a 70 MW utility grade solar installation.
Longview's coal plant is the newest in PJM. The facility came online in 2011, but shifts in the power market and construction defects at the plant forced the company to file for bankruptcy in 2013. It emerged from those proceedings in 2015 and completed repairs on the facility that year after reaching a settlement with its contractors.
Dozens of gas-fired power plants have been built or are being developed in nearby Ohio and Pennsylvania, where shale gas production has pushed prices lower and attracted developers. While West Virginia, long a leader in coal production, produces nearly 2 Tcf annually, it has largely missed out on the gas-fired power plant building boom.
There are only three older peaking plants in the state that use natural gas and they operate rarely. Efforts to utilize shale gas with more power plants have faced resistance from the coal industry.
Energy Solutions Consortium LLC has been trying to advance plans for three gas-fired plants in the state for years. Late last year, the company cleared a major hurdle when the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld its siting permit for an 830 MW facility in Brooke County, allowing construction to start this year. The coal-backed Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance had challenged it in court.
If Longview’s plant moves forward, the company said the combined-cycle facility would create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. The company has not released a timeline for construction and start of service.