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Update on Western Greenbrier CoGen Plant
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by Beth Little | 2007

Our appeal of the Air Quality Permit moves to the State Supreme Court and the water will be removed from the Meadown River.

Our appeal of the Air Quality Permit was turned down by Circuit Court and is now on its way to the WV Supreme Court.

A public hearing was held by the DEP on the State 401 Certification of water quality, at which several citizens raised concerns about impacts to the Meadow River. On August 3, the DEP granted the State 401 Certification based on the following conditions:

1. Water withdrawal from the Meadow River shall be limited to a maximum of 2.7 CFS and be permitted only during times when the discharge of the Meadow River exceeds 178 CFS from April through September; and 118 CFS from October through March.

2. A rated stream gage, or other instrumentation, shall be installed and utilized to ascertain the threshold flows for the Meadow River prior to water withdrawal from the Meadow River.

3. Daily Meadow River stream flow and withdrawal records shall be recorded and be made available to the WVDEP and WVDNR upon request, and shall be submitted as a report to the WVDEP and WVDNR annually by March 1 as long as the plant is in operation.

The problem is that the Meadow River flow can vary to less than 1 CFS during low flow periods – typically during August and September, and it is WGC who shall be in charge of maintaining and recording the stream gage results and obeying the withdrawal limits. What is the penalty if the limits are violated? Will it be worse that having to shut the plant down for lack of sufficient water?

The question of whether there is sufficient water to operate this plant has not been answered. Instead of addressing this fundamental problem and the threat it raises to the Meadow River and wells of the citizens in the area, the DEP has just set a limit on how much water WGC will be allowed to take from the Meadow River and let WGC be in charge of enforcing the limit.

There is also still the question about the discharge of water. WGC says they won’t have any discharge, and a new explanation is that they will use the water to mix with ash for the cement block factory that is supposed to be a spinoff. However, there is no existing market for these cement blocks and there is no activity on this part of the project. So what will they do with the discharge unless or until the cement block operation happens?

We are still waiting for the final EIS to be released.

WGC is having serious financial problems. Construction is way behind schedule, and there have been multiple extensions or continuations of debt payments and grant deadlines. The cost of the plant has risen from $215 million to over $300 million, and power plant professionals have said that the plant cannot make money if it costs more that $200 million. One of the principal officers has taken a 60 day leave of absence. Word is that private investors are being sought.

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