A recent decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court could be the paradigm shift supporters of using the state’s natural gas to create electricity, instead of coal, have been waiting for.

Late Thursday, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued a unanimous memorandum decision in favor of Energy Solutions Consortium, affirming the siting certificate for ESC Brooke County Power issued by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

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Despite the abundance of natural gas resources beneath the surface, coal remains king in West Virginia — at least when it comes to power generation facilities.

Doug Douglass, consultant for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, said electric power generated from shale gas is something the Mountain State is missing out on when compared to neighboring states, which have already begun to tap into this resource.

“If you compare us primarily to Ohio and Pennsylvania and you look at how much gas each of those states use for power generation, Ohio, — 30 percent of their electricity is by natural gas power plants,” he said. “Pennsylvania is 32 percent, and West Virginia is one percent. On the flip side of that, in Ohio, 51.5 percent of electricity is generated by coal; Pennsylvania, 21.1 percent; West Virginia, 92.5 percent. So, you can see it’s very lopsided toward coal power generation, and that has kind of made sense historically based on us being some of the largest coal producers.”

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