Lawmakers OK tax break for struggling coal-fired power plant
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a bill to give a tax break to a struggling coal-fired power plant.
The Senate and the House of Delegates passed the measure Tuesday without much debate, sending it to the governor’s office as the House ended its side of the special legislative session.
The proposal would exempt FirstEnergy Solutions, which has been operating in bankruptcy, from a $12.5 million state tax. CEO John W. Judge said the company’s Pleasants Power Station in Willow Island will likely close in the next year if it has to continue paying the tax.
Local and state officials say the closure would devastate the local economy, coal producers and other industries.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who owns coal businesses, is pushing for the bill and tweeted Tuesday that he will sign it. He amended the special session call so the legislature could take up the proposal.
Lawmakers largely used the special session to debate a sweeping GOP education bill that authorizes the state’s first charter schools. It eventually passed the Republican-controlled legislature and was signed by the governor after protests from educators and Democrats.
Justice called the special session after legislators failed to agree on education measures following a two-day teacher strike in February.
A spokeswoman for the Senate said it’s unclear when the chamber will meet to finish its business.