Storage Hub

State officials need to make project a reality

West Virginia may well have an advantage over other potential locations for a major facility to store natural gas liquids. State officials and our delegation in Congress should pull out all the stops to make the project a reality for the Mountain State.

Area residents have heard much talk of a storage hub. It would be an underground facility where massive amounts of natural gas liquids, used in various industries including chemicals and plastics, could be stored.

The region around such a hub could reap enormous benefits. The American Chemistry Council has estimated as many as 100,000 new jobs could be created in the area.

As we learned last fall, the Ohio Valley has some of the best underground geology available for a storage hub.

Last week, there was good news about a hub for this region of the country. Appalachian Development Group LLC revealed it has received a favorable reception from the federal government, for a $1.9 billion loan guarantee. The money would be used for a storage hub in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Kentucky.

ADG Chief Executive Officer Steve Hedrick emphasized the news is far from a go-ahead for the project. Years of work, including raising $1.4 billion in addition to the hoped-for $1.9 billion in loan guarantees, lies ahead, he cautioned.

Assuming financing can be arranged, West Virginia may have a head-start in getting the hub. ADG is located in South Charleston. Hedrick, who cited long-range plans to run pipelines to both the Ohio and Kanawha valleys, may view our state as a preferred location.

Officials and business people elsewhere will do all in their power to land the hub, however.

West Virginia needs to be in that game. That will mean work by our congressional delegation in Washington, and by our governor and legislators in Charleston.

The bottom line is this: West Virginia officials need to have the financial flexibility and wherewithal to provide roads and other infrastructure to serve the storage hub. We also need to be ready to offer tax and other financial incentives, if they become a factor.

Competing against states for the hub will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Clearly, then, Mountain State officials should begin planning right now to do that.