GLASGOW, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha River Plant, an old coal plant in Glasgow, West Virginia, has been closed for almost a decade. However, a potential venture by philanthropist Bill Gates may breathe new life into the old site.
Gates joined U.S. Senator Joe Manchin to tour the site on Monday, Jan. 9, because one of his companies, TerraPower, is considering building small nuclear reactors at the old coal plant.
“This place obviously doesn’t look the same at all, overgrown and what not, but it was different back then,” said Anthony Smith, whose parents used to work at the plant. “It would be nice to see some life back into things.”
The Kanawha River Plant, owned and operated by Appalachian Power, fired up in 1953. After 62 years of operation, it was shutdown in May 2015 as part of AEP’s plan to comply with U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS).
“As a younger kid growing up, there was power plant workers here in and out every day at that plant. The town was more prosperous back then,” said Hunter Slack, whose whole family used to work at the plant. “Ever since the plant shutdown, the town has lost more residents, it had like over 1,000 back then and now it’s down to almost 500.”
Even though no announcement has been made, some residents told 13 News they could get behind the project.
“It would be something new for this town and probably for this state even,” said Slack. “It would bring in a lot of jobs, a lot more homes would probably be built here for it.”
Smith said it may be the boost the community needs to get back to where it used to be.
“I would love to see things back to how they used to be, that’s probably how a lot of people feel anywhere. As an area that’s struggling they just want to see it get better,” he said. “Anytime you can get some change in the area, hopefully positive, it’s a good thing.”