Proposed $150M wind power plant will bring jobs, economic development to Mineral and Grant counties

CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice and local elected officials today welcomed plans for the Black Rock Wind Farm, a proposed wind energy power plant that straddles the Mineral and Grant County line.

With a generation capacity of up to 170 megawatts, the project expects to create hundreds of jobs during construction, bolster the region’s electricity infrastructure, and generate significant new tax revenues for Mineral and Grant counties and the state of West Virginia.

“This investment is truly great news for Mineral and Grant Counties, and all of West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “My administration is committed to finding every possible way to enhance energy production in West Virginia, and the Black Rock Wind Farm is the perfect example of a project that will be a win-win in many ways.

Not only will the project harness West Virginia’s inexhaustible wind for clean energy production, it will bring good-paying jobs during construction and then, once it’s built, this wind farm will continue to stimulate our economy for years to come.”

“We are grateful for the support of Governor Justice and all of the local leaders who recognize our recent submittal of Black Rock’s Siting Certificate Application with the West Virginia Public Service Commission,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group, which is developing Black Rock. “Given the success of Clearway’s existing Pinnacle Wind Farm next door and the relationships we’ve been able to build with surrounding communities, we’re excited to expand our footprint and bring even more local jobs and economic opportunity to the Mountain State.”

“The Black Rock Wind Farm is an exciting opportunity for Grant County because it will bring new jobs and expand our tax base,” said Grant County Commission President Douglas E. Swick. “Black Rock’s Community Benefit Fund will also support our local nonprofits and social service organizations.”

Mineral County Commission President Roger Leatherman added: “Clearway is already a good corporate citizen in Mineral County, and we are excited to support this planned expansion to their operations.

In addition to the jobs and economic investment it brings, the Commission supports Black Rock because it will enhance revenues to the county to support our schools, first responders and social services.”

Gov. Justice and local officials noted that Black Rock represents an important private-sector investment of at least $150 million in Mineral and Grant counties that will create new jobs and economic opportunities.

During the construction phase, Black Rock is expected to create 290 jobs, representing approximately $14 million in labor income payroll and $44 million in regional economic output. Additional local jobs will be created to staff the plant, which will be supplemented with contractor services provided by area businesses.

Gov. Justice added that during construction, the wind farm is expected to generate at least $4.8 million in state and local taxes, with a further $12 million over its first 25 years in operation.

Officials noted that Clearway already has a proven track record in the region. The company owns and operates the Lookout and Forward Wind Farms in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and the Pinnacle Wind Farm near Keyser, West Virginia, where Clearway is already among the largest taxpayers in Mineral County.

Pinnacle has established a Community Benefit Fund overseen by residents that has contributed $191,000 to date toward “brick-and-mortar” projects and nonprofit organizations since 2013. Black Rock plans to create a similar Community Benefit Fund to benefit Mineral and Grant counties once construction is complete.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are currently 686 megawatts of wind capacity in West Virginia. Black Rock Wind would represent nearly 25% growth in the state’s current wind energy production.

Upon approval of its Siting Certificate, Clearway expects to start construction on Black Rock next year, with commercial operations commencing in 2021.