ecoPower officials say plans for power plant still on tap
by Bailey Richards
HAZARD — After several years of planning, officials with ecoPower Generation say they are still moving forward with building a wood-burning power plant in Perry County that could bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to the area.
According to the Chief Executive Officer Gary T. Crawford, company officials are very optimistic as they move into the final stages of development before they begin construction.
ecoPower Generation made a proposal for a wood-burning plant in 2009. At that time, Crawford came before the Perry County Fiscal Court and said they hoped to begin construction in 2010. Since then, however, progress has slowed. Permitting and financing took longer than expected, though the company says they are still working on making this proposal a reality.
The Perry County plant would use around 550,000 tons of low-grade wood from saw mills and timber production. This wood would otherwise be considered waste. The primary source of lumber would be Pine Mountain Lumber Company out of Letcher County.
The proposed plant would be constructed in the Coal Fields Industrial Park in Chavies, reportedly capable of powering 30,000 residential homes. ecoPower would connect to the existing AEP grid via the Engle Substation that is only a mile from the proposed site of the power plant.
According to the company’s most recent project overview, all of the agreements for hooking up to the current grid and the permits will be completed this spring. Shortly following finalizing all agreements, they have plans to buy the proposed site.
The project overview also said that as soon as 30 days after the final closure on the land, construction could begin. Just over two years after the closure, the plant is proposed to be completed and ready for service.
According to the company, they estimate around 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase. Once the plant is completed and operational, they have calculated it will bring around 500 jobs both directly through hires and indirectly through support businesses.
It is believed that the plant will bring about $18 million in economic benefits to the region.
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