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Pleasants Power Station fires back up

Pleasants Power Station is back up and running, Gov. Jim Justice announced at a gathering of West Virginia business leaders.

The power plant had been endangered over the past couple of years. Today, Omnis Fuel Technologies fired the plant back up, investing $800 million in West Virginia for a project estimated to result in 600 jobs.

Justice announced the fire-up during introductory remarks at the annual Business Summit hosted by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. While Justice appeared on stage, on a big video screen was Pleasants County Commissioner Jay Powell showing the puffs from the power plant up against blue sky.

“Can you see the smoke coming out of the smokestacks? Now’s when you really cheer,” Justice told the crowd in the ballroom at The Greenbrier Resort.

Gov. Jim Justices watches Pleasants County Commissioner Jay Powell talk about the rebirth of the power plant there.

Hosts of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce business summit hinted that another economic development announcement will be made at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Pleasants is a 1300 megawatt two-unit coal power plant located on the Ohio River near Belmont, Pleasants County. About 150 people work at the plant, which began operations in 1979.

Until late last year, it had been owned by Energy Harbor, which is pursuing a green energy strategy and transferred control of the plant to another company called Energy Transmission & Environmental Management. ETEM had intended to shut down the plant, demolish the structures, remediate the property and prepare it for future redevelopment.

State and local leaders searched for a solution, attempting to keep the plant open, the workers employed and the community’s tax base intact.

Omnis entered the picture to take over the plant and generate energy using a hydrogen by product of Omnis’s graphite production operations. Omnis is developing technologies that could be subject to benefits under the federal Inflation Reduction Act, like hydrogen and carbon sequestration.

Omnis completed the deal earlier this month and today fired up again. The plant will generate power using coal initially before making the switch to hydrogen.

“Pleasants Power Plant — a power plant, a coal-fired power plant — is taking new life, and it’s
taking new life right in front of our eyes,” Justice told the crowd.

Powell echoed that optimism.

“I drove south just a little bit ago, on Route 2, with tears in my eyes,” Powell said, on the video screen with the power plant’s towers behind him.

“As we see the cooling tower producing, the good lord above provided the perfect sky to see that steam coming out of there. You look over there, we have the main stack producing.”

The plant, he said, returned to the grid at 5:39 a.m.

“We’re doing something that no one can say they’ve ever done before,” Powell said. “The plant was mothballed. It was scheduled to be taken out of here.”