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Power Boost: Aid for Pleasants plant best solution for now

By substantial majorities, both the state Senate and House of Delegates approved exempting the Pleasants Power Station from about $12 million a year in state business and occupation taxes.

Other power plants do not pay that tax. Pleasants, because of its “merchant plant” status, was required to do so. “Merchant plants,” unlike many others, operate as wholesale power sellers without the benefit of long-term contracts.

FirstEnergy Solutions has continued to operate the plant, even under bankruptcy conditions. Providing the tax exemption may have been the difference between keeping the station opening and watching it close. That would have eliminated 160 jobs at the facility itself, plus others that rely indirectly on the plant.

State Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, put the situation succinctly: “Let’s keep this plant open. If it closes, we lose the money anyway.”

Precisely.

Gov. Jim Justice has said state officials will find ways to make up for the lost $12 million in revenue. But keeping the plant open means other revenue, such as property taxes and state income taxes, will continue flowing. In the long run, then, Clements is right: Approving the tax exemption is a matter of half a loaf being better than none, for now.

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