Randy Harris, Project Director for the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA), gave Board members an update on the project at their regular meeting Thursday.
The coal-to-liquid plant is in the process of obtaining the various permits required, Harris said.
“We did site visits with air quality people,” Harris said. “It was a very positive visit on the part of the DEP folks. One person said, ‘This may be the best site in the state for this’, which I thought was very good.”
Harris said the comment was based on the site location, which is not near any residential or commercial areas, yet is near the resources needed for the operation, namely feedstock and water.
“We don’t have any business or people living close by,” Harris said. “The lay of the land is ideal. From where we stood [during the site visit] you could see over 80 acres in one direction and 150 in the other direction. There are not that many places in the state where you have that much land that is ready for development.”
MCRA is planning a series of town hall meetings to help keep the public informed about the process of building the CTL plant. According to all estimates, the facility will bring major impact to the county, economic and otherwise.
When the plant becomes operational in 2013, the $3 billion facility is expected to use 3 million tons of locally mined coal of all grades each year to produce over 6.5 million barrels of gasoline.
During construction the facility will employ approximately 3,000 unionized workers. Full time employment at the plant will be 200, while several hundred spin-off jobs in the mining, transportation and other sections of the economy will be created.
TransGas Development Systems is the company building the plant. TransGas President Adam Victor said previously this project has the potential to clearly establish West Virginia and the United States as global leaders in the development of strategic and environmentally sound alternatives to oil.
MCRA Director Mike Whitt says he wants the town hall meetings to take place in as many communities as possible.
“We want to address peoples’ questions and concerns,” Whitt said. “We want to give them the opportunity to ask questions. This process will be inclusive. People will be informed.”
Other matters discussed at the MCRA meeting Thursday included businesses at the Wood Products Industrial Park.
The newest addition to the park is Wright Concrete. Whitt told the MCRA Board that Wright is moving forward with site work, although construction has been slow due to weather conditions.
“I think they will be here in the next two to three weeks for site prep,” Whitt said. “They hope to be ready to advertise for employees in May.”
Wright will start with 18 to 20 employees, and hope to grow to 80 to 100 at the site. Those jobs will pay in the rage of $18/hour, with full benefits.
Whitt also reported a meeting with the West Virginia Development Office and officials from Mohawk Flooring, which has a facility at the Industrial Park.
“Mohawk has just made a $3.5 million capital investment in that plant,” Whitt said, explaining the company had brought in more automated equipment. The new equipment will help the plant be more efficient and competitive. “They have weathered the economic storm,” Whitt said. “They are committed to Mingo County.”
Another company, Weatherford, a gas well fracturing company at the park, had announced the hiring of some additional employees at the facility, but the economic downturn affected that decision.
“They said the crews here were probably better than any crews they have had,” Whitt said. But, the company had to take cost saving measures, and has laid off the dispatchers in Mingo County.
“The Mingo Crew is going with a crew from Buchanan to Pennsylvania, where Weatherford has contracts for big jobs,” Whitt explained. “They are dispatching out of Buchanan. It’s just like everything else; its slowed down.”