One of the largest solar facilities in the Appalachian Basin, and perhaps the largest in Western Pennsylvania, is planned for Greene County.

Greene Commissioner Blair Zimmerman said Monday morning that Longview Power LLC, based in Maidsville, W.Va., is in the developmental phase of constructing a 70-megawatt utility grade solar field. An estimated 185,000 solar panels are to be placed on land the company purchased on both sides of the Pennsylvania-West Virginia line, along the Monongahela River.

The project will cost an estimated $76 million and is targeted for commission in late 2021, according to a news release from the Greene County Tourism Promotion Agency.

Zimmerman said most of the solar project property – 300 acres – will be in Dunkard Township in Greene. Cost savings may have been the impetus behind Longview purchasing more land across the state line. Henry McKay, Pennsylvania program director for Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit, wrote in an email that “we have Solar Renewable Energy Credits in PA, but there are none in WV.”

Jeff Keffer, the company’s chief executive officer, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Longview Power, located near Morgantown, operates one of the last coal-fired power plants built in the United States – a 710-MW facility that went online in 2011. Longview also plans to build a 1,200-MW combined-cycle natural gas-fired plant.

The company touts its coal-fired plant as being clean burning.

Zimmerman is thrilled with this project, saying he and fellow commissioners Dave Coder and Archie Trader have been “working on it for months, maybe a year” with Longview and its affiliates.

“Since I’ve taken office, I’ve supported development of any kind in Greene County,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve had growth in natural gas, and coal is holding steady. This makes us an energy capital of the United States.”

State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Washington/Fayette, likewise endorses the solar project. She said in a statement: “Energy production (is) rooted in Greene County’s history. In order for America to be energy independent, we must have a diverse energy portfolio. I’m excited that Longview and its affiliates have chosen to enhance Greene County’s energy production.”

“Supplying the growing energy needs for our communities will take an all-of-the-above approach,” added Coder. “This is a great project that puts words into action. I am excited to support this development.”

Although he declined to provide specifics, Zimmerman said there are several other development prospects percolating in the county.

“We’re working on stuff,” he said. “Good things are happening in Greene County.”

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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