CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The West Virginia State Senate joined the House of Delegates in supporting a $12 million tax break for the Pleasants Power Station, in Pleasants County, on the Ohio River. The plant was due to close down in three years, but this could extend it. Supporters say this is about keeping hundreds of people working.
“They need assistance in maintaining that plant and the 160 people that work there,” said Del. Vernon Criss, (R-Wood).
The West Virginia Coal Association says three mines serve this power plant.
“You do the math. There’s 5, 600 jobs that are directly related to this plant. These are good-paying mining jobs,” said Chris Hamilton, Vice-president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
But opponents say its time West Virginia moves toward clean energy sources, such as solar and wind.
“I have a bill that was introduced that’s called the ‘Modern Jobs Act’, or MOJO Act. And that would open up West Virginia to put solar farms on former coal mines,” said Del. Evan Hansen, (D-Monongalia).
In the end, the Senate vote was unanimous, but Democrats felt rushed by a bill the Governor just introduced Friday night.
“It’s a little vague. We don’t understand the urgency. We haven’t been contacted by the Governor’s office,” said State Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, (D-Marion).
The plant is owned by First Energy Solutions.
Even with these tax breaks, no one is certain how long the Pleasants Power Station can remain in operation, beyond its original planned closing date in 2022.