WILLOW ISLAND, W. Va. (WOWK) — Governor Justice signed into a law, a $12 million dollar annual tax break for the company. Pleasants Power was in danger of closing, putting 165 employees out of work, and also displacing 300 miners who supply the coal fired plant. The governor calls the tax cut a good investment.
“I mean really, what it really boils down to is we saved all kinds of jobs. We saved all kinds of jobs and goodness for West Virginia for a long time to come. We did it in a bipartisan way,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
But critics predict the plant owner will keep asking for government money down the road, as the operation is not profitable.
“This is clearly just asking the government to prop up a private company. It’s corporate welfare is what it is,” said Emmett Pepper, a consumer attorney.
Long time plant employees who get to keep their jobs are thrilled.
“Well it’s big. The pay scale is great here for the area. And if you had to go out hunting for another job, it would be tough,” said Ray Culver, a Pleasants Power Station employee.
Governor Justice also said he was not aware that one of the private companies his family owns, was the subject of legal action by Pleasants Power’s owner First Energy, and that did not sway the bailout.
“I had not one fiber in me that knew about it. Period,” said Gov. Jim Justice.
The average wage at the plant, is $80-thousand dollars a year.
“The Peasants Powers Station was scheduled to close in the year 2022. Even with the 12-million dollar tax break, it’s not certain how long the plant can stay in operation,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.