ST. MARYS - American Municipal Power (AMP) has signed a financial agreement with the Pleasants County Commission and Pleasants County Board of Education concerning the company's Willow Island Hydroelectric Project.
The agreement will providing financial support to the county and board of education related to the project, which is under construction at the Willow Island Locks and Dam, according to a press release from AMP.
The financial agreement will be in lieu of taxes from the electric-generating facility, which has been under construction since late July 2011. The plant is expected to be functioning by late 2013 or early 2014.
Per the agreement, AMP will make annual payments of $1,020,000 to the commission to be shared with the school system and other tax-receiving entities. The initial payment will be made by Sept. 1, prior to the facility's operation and prior to when taxes would normally be due, stated Kent Carson, spokesman for AMP.
Annual payments in a like amount will begin Sept. 1, 2015, and continue as long as the plant remains operational.
If, for any reason, the plant ceases operations before Aug. 31, 2039, payments will end on that date.
"AMP is looking forward to a long relationship with Pleasants County," said Marc Gerken, AMP president and CEO. "The facility represents an important economic development source for the region, (and) AMP is committed to being a good neighbor."
Both Pleasants County Commission and school board released statements of enthusiasm for the future with AMP and the financial agreement.
"We look forward to being good working neighbors with their organization for decades to come," said Pleasants County Commission President Jim Cottrill.
Pleasants County Schools Superintendent Mike Wells said the school district looks forward to having a good relationships with AMP "as we are always willing to welcome new business and the families it brings to the community."
"We anticipate great things as together we build the foundation for the future of education in Pleasants County," Wells added.
As part of the recently executed agreement, AMP has also agreed to use its best efforts to employ local residents for jobs during construction and for all permanent jobs. Construction on the plant throughout the next year-and-a-half is expected to create about 400 jobs, while the plant itself will have seven to nine full-time employees.
Once the plant itself is paid off, AMP expects to supply their members with lower cost power as the cost of the plant?s manpower and maintenance will be minimal.
The plant will add 35 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, benefiting 79 AMP communities in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, including New Martinsville and Philippi, the only two municipalities in the state that maintain their own electric utilities.
The annual financial payments are roughly one-third of the county commission's yearly budget of about $3 million.
The Willow Island Hydroelectric Project is one of four run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects currently under construction on the Ohio River, said Kent Carson with AMP. The other three projects are in Kentucky at the Smithland, Cannelton and Captain Anthony Meldahl Dams.