PSD ordered to halt project proposal
The West Virginia Public Service Commission issued an order last week regarding the Pocahontas County Public Service District's proposal for a new wastewater treatment facility at Snowshoe.
The PSC order requires that a single-plant regional wastewater project, instead of a decentralized project, be built to service the Snowshoe/Slaty Fork area.
The order states the status conference testimony indicated that Dr. Rigby and the District have sufficient data available to amend the Facility Plan to propose a centralized project. It is now clear from the July 13, 2012 status conference testimony and evidence that continued pursuit of a decentralized project would be unreasonable and not in the public interest.
“The Commission concludes that the District proposal, which provides more excess capacity on the mountain than the valley, does not provide sufficient flexibility for future growth. Based on the District's latest, June 25, 2012 cost estimates, there is no significant cost benefit between the decentralized options and the centralized options.”
According to PSD board member Amon Tracey, the order from the PSC changes the location of the project.
“What was known as the Galford site, is now out. The Curtis property is out. Now it's either 7A or site 7-12,” said Tracey.
Both site 7A and 7-12 were donated by Snowshoe, and Tracey said he was under the impression the offer from Snowshoe is still on the table. Snowshoe chief operations officer Frank DeBerry confirmed on Tuesday that both sites are still available for the project.
Tracey said he is pleased with the order, and has always favored a centralized facility at site 7-12.
“Everything in my life, and I'm almost 80 years old, one is cheaper than two,” said Tracey.
“I know site 7-12 is my choice. To me, it makes common sense. Back about two years ago, Mark Smith and I chose that site. Most all of the paperwork has been done. We have the waste load allocation approved. It is pretty well ready to go.”
The PSC commission order echoes Tracey's opinion about the operational expense of a single-plant system.
“The record and simple common sense supports a conclusion that a single plant will be easier and less expensive to operate over time than two plants,” reads the order.
Tracey said he is also pleased with the 550,000 gallon-a-day waste load allocation mandated in the PSC order.
“That should accommodate the Mountain and the Valley for years and years, maybe forever if there's no more development,” said Tracey.
Concerns of gravity-fed lines across the mountain were voiced by environmentalists in years past, but Tracey said the pipes can be installed safely.
“According to the DEP's engineer and the PSC's engineer, the lines could be environmentally safe,” said Tracey. “Both of them said they were environmentally safe. Mr. Rigby also said he could install a line that would be safe.”
The PSD will be working under a deadline to justify its newest proposal. The PSC withheld ruling on placing the embattled plant proposal into receivership, giving the PSD 60 days to amend its facilities plan and file applications for funding and permitting for a centralized, 550,000-gallon-per-day facility.
“If we haven't done something in sixty days, or showed great progress, my understanding is the project will go into receivership,” explained Tracey. “Receivership isn't something the Commission rules on, it goes to court. A court makes the decision, but certainly if we haven't done anything, the way this has drug on over the years, if we haven't done something, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have a hard time convincing the court that we're not getting anything done.”
PSD president Tom Shipley deferred comment until the district meeting held Tuesday night.