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Commission ‘ecstatic’ about PILT agreement, makes documents available


That’s how Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom described the commission’s mood following a 5-0 vote from the Monongalia County Board of Education on Tuesday that all but finalized a 30-year, $58.2 million payment in lieu of tax,  or PILT, agreement for the forthcoming solar and natural gas expansion next to the Longview coal-fired power plant, in Maidsville.  

The commission voted on Wednesday to make the facility agreements and lease and PILT documents publicly available upon request at The commission will take the documents up for approval on Dec. 16.

The commissioners thanked the BOE for supporting the  agreement, which has been nearly two years in the making.

“It took cooperation, understanding and, quite frankly, trust,” Commission President Ed Hawkins said.

“The board’s 5-0 vote last night to approve the PILT agreement is a precursor to an extraordinary relationship,” Commissioner Sean Sikora added. “This isn’t something that’s ever been done between two entities, such as the commission and the board of education. I commend all the members of the board of education for their support.”

Sikora said there were a number of lessons learned from the original 2003 PILT, which allowed for the construction of the $2.2 billion coal plant. That agreement is providing $106 million over 40 years. 

He explained about $3 million of that is tied to the lease agreement and $103 million is tied to the PILT. Subsequently, it’s become clear that 85% of the PILT dollars going toward the school district’s general levy is counting against the  district when it comes to state aid.

“So the way we did it this time, we flipped that ratio. We did about 3% on the PILT and the rest is on the lease,” Sikora said. “So by flipping those ratios, that leaves about $20 million more dollars that are going to be staying in the county, big C, so that we can use it here locally rather than pay it into the state.” 

Bloom said he would like to see that revenue help ensure broadband access for every student and citizen in the county, among other initiatives.

Longview’s $1.1 billion expansion will include a 1,200 megawatt combined cycle gas facility powered by two high-efficiency, low-heat-rate gas turbines. It will occupy 54 acres north of and adjacent to the existing plant.

It will also include solar array fields near the existing coal plant and in Pennsylvania. Combined, the arrays will generate about 70 megawatts. The West Virginia portion is expected to cover approximately 127 acres and produce 20 megawatts.

Longview Controller Philip Pompili said the goal is to obtain financing and begin the projects in late 2021.

In other news, the commission signed off on an annexation request by the city of Westover that will bring about 170 acres along Solomon Road, and Solomon Road itself, into the city.

The addition was accomplished through annexation without election — meaning a majority of freeholders (property owners) and qualified voters (businesses) to be annexed  signed off on the move.

The commission also approved the expenditure of the county’s $100,000 in “hero pay,” approved by Gov. Jim Justice for each county in April to offset COVID-19 expenses.

County Administrator Rennetta McClure said the funds will be used to purchase three laboratory freezer units for the Monongalia County Health Department in order to store the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine ($37,554). Those units will also require $11,775 in electrical work and a $28,200 diesel generator. The remaining funds, about $22,500 will go to Mon EMS for flexible gurney shields, respirators and equipment for its fire rehab trailer.

Lastly, the commission approved the purchase and installation of a plaque in memory of former Chief Magistrate Hershel R Mullins at the Monongalia County Justice Center.