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Electrifying news

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

BUCKHANNON -- A $600 million power station and mining complex to be constructed in Upshur County is expected to initially bring hundreds of jobs to the area.

Dominion and Anker Energy Corp. announced plans for the project Thursday in a ceremony at the Upshur County Courthouse.

The development, expected to be complete by 2005, will include a 450-megawatt coal and coal waste-fired electric power station at the old Island Creek Mine in Tenmile.

"West Virginia does not have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment -- we can have both," Gov. Bob Wise said.

Around 400-500 jobs will be needed for construction, 50-60 for permanent high-skill jobs, and 25-30 for mining once the station is operational, said Thomas Farrell, chief executive officer at Dominion Energy.

"It will use state-of-the-art 'clean coal' technology and burn more than 65 percent coal waste," said Wise. "We are fighting to provide clean coal research. This project can help do that."

Wise said the facility will operate as a merchant power provider, supplying electricity to the western portion of the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland wholesale power grid.

He said this project will be a major part of the state energy policy to be unveiled in a few weeks.

"The addition of our 11th coal-fired power station will promote fuel diversity as a desirable goal of the country's electric energy policy," said Farrell, who wants to increase the amount of the nation's energy provided by coal, currently at close to 50 percent.

Dan Donovan, manager of Media Relations at Dominion, said that the facility could be a showcase for projects around the world. "This new technology of using coal waste can be utilized to supply more energy in an environmentally sound way."

"We have invested $1.6 billion in new projects in West Virginia in one year," added Farrell.

Bruce Sparks, president of Anker Energy, said the project will allow the company to develop its existing surface mineable coal reserves in Upshur County.

"After several years of research and development, we have devised a mining and reclamation technique that will allow reserves to be mined without creating acid mine drainage," said Sparks, who hopes to mine 2.5 million tons of coal in 2005 plus 2.5 million tons of coal waste.

Dominion will construct, own and operate the power station, while Anker Energy will provide all of the facility's fuel from on-site surface mining operations.

Anker Energy will also develop a 1,000- to 1,500-acre industrial park on the site.

The industrial park will be the largest on the East Coast, according to Arnold D. Arrowood, chief executive officer and director of Upshur County Development Authority.

"We can work with companies who need up to 1 million square feet with the infrastructure support needed," said Arrowood.

"It is a great day and a win, win situation," said Nancy Shobe, acting mayor of Buckhannon. "This project will launch Upshur County into the 21st century."

Staff writer Darlene Taylor can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com.

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