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Silver lining to Glasgow plant closure

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's good news and bad news for Kanawha County taxpayers when Appalachian Power closes its aging Glasgow power plant.

The bad news is Kanawha County will lose $1.1 million in tax revenue, and the town of Glasgow will lose about $80,000 in business and occupation taxes.

The good news is Appalachian Power is about to begin $337 million in upgrades to power transmission lines, mostly in the Kanawha Valley. The work will bring in about $2.2 million in revenue, some of which will also help Glasgow and other Kanawha County communities.

Members of the Kanawha County Commission talked about the impact of the closure at a regular meeting Thursday.

Officials for AEP announced earlier this month they will be closing old coal-fired power plants in Glasgow, New Haven and Moundsville by December 2014. The Kanawha River Plant in Glasgow employs about 60 people.

Although the loss of jobs and revenue from the Glasgow plant isn't good for the county, county commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores acknowledged that revenue from the power line upgrades is a good thing. Power company spokespeople say the new lines will upgrade some power lines that go back to the 1940s.

Carper also said he has been promised by power company officials that they will try to mitigate the job losses from Glasgow by finding other jobs for the workers.

Also Thursday, Carper, Hardy and Shores voted to require annual physicals for the spouses of county employees beginning July 1, 2014. Employees on the county health plan are already required to have an annual physical, which is designed to catch diseases or serious illnesses early enough that they can be treated.

Employees and their spouses will be able to take the physicals from their regular doctors if they want, and the county will pay for the exams.

The policy has already saved lives. Steve Sluss, an attorney for the county assessor's office, credits the annual exams with catching an aggressive form of cancer that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Sluss said Thursday the exam saved his life.

Requiring annual physicals for the spouses of employees will cost the county about $30,000 a year, on top of the $30,000 it already costs for exams for employees. But Hardy, Shores and Carper say the expense is worth it if cancer or another deadly illness is caught.

Commissioners also voted Thursday to give more than $35,000 to West Virginia Health Right for a capital improvement project.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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