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Dominion to invest $1 billion

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

BRIDGEPORT -- Dominion Chief Executive Officer Tom Capps said Wednesday the company will invest up to $1 billion over the next three years to expand business operations in West Virginia.

Capps made the remarks during a presentation at the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet at Via Veneto.

The investments will include $22 million for expanded gas drilling by Dominion Exploration and Production, located at the Lewis County Industrial Park in Jane Lew.

"Somebody's got to drill those wells," Caps said. "We will be reworking about 70 of them."

While Capps did not deviate from Dominion's policy of not commenting on specific job reductions at Clarksburg subsidiaries, he did say he expects the company to retain a strong presence in the area.

"All our gas pipes are run out of here," Capps said. "We want to grow the pipeline business for building and, hopefully, acquisition, too. We like it here and we like doing business here. We want to be here a long time."

With the January merger of Dominion, which has headquarters in Richmond, Va., and CNG Transmission Corp. of Pittsburgh, the company has both gas production and electric generation capabilities. Capps said the company plans to use natural gas for electric generation.

Capps added the company hopes to expand to sell electricity in deregulated markets throughout the Northeast and parts of the Midwest.

"All of the power plants we're building today use gas. We see the demand for gas growing," Capps said.

Capps also announced the company will construct additional pipeline facilities in the state, though he added he cannot provide specifics such as location until the company can obtain regulatory clearance.

He also mentioned previously announced investments such as $130 million in a natural-gas-fired power facility in Pleasants County and a $118 million environmental upgrade at the Mt. Storm power plant in Grant County.

Overall, the company has 1,470 employees with a payroll of about $100 million in West Virginia.

Dominion's state subsidiaries pay about $50 million in state and local taxes, he said.

Capps closed his presentation with an overview of Dominion's philanthropic activities in the state, including the donation of a 477-acre tract in the Dolly Sods area to the Nature Conservancy of West Virginia. The Dolly Sods land is valued at $1.5 million.

"We are very high on the Nature Conservancy," Capps said. "It is one of our favorite charitable organizations."

Staff writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442.

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