Luzerne County readies for assessment of new power plant in Salem Township

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - [email protected]

Luzerne County is retaining an outside appraisal company to come up with an assessed value for the new Caithness Moxie Freedom Generating Station in Salem Township, according to county records and officials.

The county assessor’s office wanted the expertise because the natural gas-fired power generating station is complex and not a typical commercial or industrial site, officials said.

Two appraisal companies submitted proposals at $50,000 and $70,000, and the administration is finalizing a contract with the lower-priced Coyle, Lynch & Company, which is based in Media, Pennsylvania, said county Manager C. David Pedri.

Located along Mingle Inn Road, the Caithness property includes 10 parcels totaling 176.74 acres, assessment records show.

Caithness Moxie Freedom representatives are working with the county assessor’s office and their consultants to fulfill the statutory requirement to correctly assess the property, spokesman Steve Kratz said Friday.

The generating station is transitioning to commercial operation, Kratz said.

“Our two highly efficient GE H-class gas turbine units are operating and producing approximately 1,000 megawatts of clean and efficient electric power — enough to supply approximately 900,000 homes locally and throughout the region,” he said.

Using state-of-the-art technology, the plant will achieve the lowest possible air emissions and operate with “low noise,” he said.

The two-year construction period to develop the nearly $1 billion generating station supported hundreds of jobs and injected millions of dollars into the state and regional economy, added Kratz.

Appraisal specifics

Pedri said his goal is to complete an assessed value by the end of the year.

The county has authority to assess a new business retroactively to the first day of the month after it opens, according to the assessor’s office.

According to the county’s request for appraisal proposals:

The selected outside appraiser must personally inspect the entire complex. The county will work with station representatives to schedule the visit and secure records needed by the appraiser.

In addition to furnishing a written opinion of the fair market value, the outside appraiser must be willing to appear and testify about that value before the county assessment appeals board or in court if the value is contested.

The county has asked the township and Berwick Area School District to share in the cost of the outside appraiser. The township has agreed, but the school district declined due to a potential conflict, Pedri said.

New York state-based Caithness Energy produces power for Moxie Energy LLC, of Virginia. The two companies will operate the plant.

Kratz noted Caithness Moxie Freedom will continue to support public improvement projects in the township and surrounding area. To date, it has invested more than $800,000 in completed projects and future commitments, including recreational enhancements at the township park and contributions to the Salem Township Volunteer Fire Co.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.