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Air permit hearing for South Point expected

SOUTH POINT – Village officials and county economic development leaders expect an air permit hearing to take place in May for a proposed power co-generation plant.

Thursday, April 05, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Village officials and county economic development leaders expect an air permit hearing to take place in May for a proposed power co-generation plant.

The plant, proposed in past years by Biomass Energy, would operate on land the company owns in the middle of the former South Point ethanol plant site. The 500-plus acres are now called The Point, part of the Ironton-Huntington, W.Va., Empowerment Zone designation, and are being marketed by the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

Village Mayor Bill Gaskin, who spurred the EPA hearing request, said South Point Council agreed Tuesday with recent concerns over air quality.

There was a time years ago when South Point was subjected to smog and other problems because of plants, Gaskin said.

"I don’t think the citizens need to be put through that again for no more jobs than will be there," he said.

In 1999, when Biomass began making the first public announcements of its plans, company officials said they wanted to come online with 40 megawatts then market the electricity and byproducts of the generation process – steam and carbon dioxide – to industries locating on the LEDC’s remaining acres.

Biomass will have green, clean energy to offer, company president Mark Harris told Empowerment Zone officials touring the site that year.

LEDC executive director Pat Clonch said the corporation will use the hearing to seek information.

"We just want information about exactly how (the plant) will affect the park," Mrs. Clonch said. "The big issue is the future."

The EPA monitors air quality and regulates how much emissions can take place in certain areas.

The LEDC wants to be sure the plant won’t interfere with other other industries wanting to come in to The Point, Mrs. Clonch said.