Hydropower project request rejected

TUCKER COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service has rejected a request to build a hydropower project on Monongahela National Forest System land in Tucker County.

“The proposal is inconsistent, and cannot be made consistent, with applicable forest land and resource management plan standards and guidelines for management of the area,” Forest Supervisor Shawn M. Cochran of the U.S. Forest Service wrote in a letter dated March 4.

Freedom Works, LLC, a Harpers Ferry company, was seeking to build a pump storage hydroelectric project near the Big Run Bog and Mill Run area.

In addition to building on NFS land, the company also sought to use NFS roads for access; perform core drilling; evaluate sub-surface geology; analyze the soil material removed/disturbed; and conduct geochemistry analyses, soil chemistry analyses and biological studies on NFS lands.

“Studies and surveys are proposed that would require vegetation and earth disturbance to occur within the Big Run Bog, a National Natural Landmark established in 1974 to preserve the bog’s unique ecosystem and protect this area of national significance,” Cochran wrote in his letter.

“Rejection of this unsolicited proposal is not subject to administrative appeal,” he added.

Tim Williamson, the CEO of FreedomWorks LLC, has said in a press release that the purpose of the $1.2 billion proposed project was to create a “1 gigawatt rated-power pump storage hydro project (providing) 500 megawatts of 100 percent renewable energy drived storage and generation, 24 hours per day, 365 days of each year, semi-continuous for the next 50 years.”

Williamson also said the mountains of Tucker County were the only area in West Virginia where the project could potentially be successful. The project would have created two 1,200-acre reservoirs in the area.

In January, Parsons City Council moved to support the proposal, known as the Big Run Pump Storage Hydro Project.