Latest News

WV Taxpayers Would Foot the Bill for Work at Coal-Fired Plants

Date: September 13, 2021

Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power are asking state regulators to approve making West Virginia customers responsible for $48 million annually to cover wastewater compliance work at three coal-fired generating plants in the state, reports the Herald-Dispatch. The companies are asking West Virginia customers to shoulder all of the costs for these planned upgrades because Kentucky and Virginia utility regulators denied the companies’ requests to approve the upgrades required to keep the plants compliant with wastewater discharge guidelines. Critics object to the proposal that would make West Virginia taxpayers carry the full financial burden of the upgrades when they believe the plants should be retired.

Governor Reemphasizes Highway Projects

Date: September 13, 2021

Three major highway projects in the state remain a top priority for Gov. Jim Justice, according to WVNews, and he plans to use federal stimulus dollars to complete them. The Coalfields Expressway, King Coal Highway, and Corridor H, Justice said, are important to improve the state’s economic development, but they have taken too long. “It has taken 28 or 29 years to get it (Coalfields Expressway) from Slab Fork to Mullins,” he said. “Good gosh, we’ve got to do better than that.”

Centennial Celebration for WV PEs

Date: August 11, 2021

The 100th anniversary of West Virginia PEs and architects was celebrated July 27, as reported by the Weston Democrat. The West Virginia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers held its first meeting on November 21, 1921, at the Coyle and Richardson Building in downtown Charleston. Today, nearly 9,100 professional engineers licensed to practice in the state.

Morgan County Growth Spurs Infrastructure Development

Date: August 11, 2021

To accommodate a recent growth spurt, Morgan County is expanding its water and sewer infrastructure, reports WDVM. The growth is attributed to the pandemic flight of Washingtonians to a less crowded and less expensive setting.

The county commissioner says the county is working with Berkeley Springs Water Works and the Warm Springs Public Service District on preliminary engineering. Additionally, a lagoon system, a batch plant, and a package plant are planned to be taken offline, and a highway bypass is in the works.

A potential partnership between Johnson County and Morgan County to bring sewer services to the future I-69 corridor, however, is off the table. The plan was for a new $3.1 million wastewater plant in Waverly.

Pipeline Project Slowed Over Permitting Issue

Date: July 21, 2021

The Mountain Valley Pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia hit a snag when the US Environmental Protection Agency asked the Army Corps of Engineers to deny a key construction permit for water crossings, reports Engineering News-Record. The project is nearly 92% complete, but last year a federal court struck down blanket permits, such as the one held by the Corps that allowed project-wide water crossings without individual impact review. Now, pipeline yare working toward a different permit that includes review of hundreds of water body crossings.

EPA’s wetlands branch chief said, “While EPA recognizes the proposed project’s purpose and need for providing transmission of natural gas, the extent of anticipated impacts, notably the large amount of temporary discharges from the proposal to the aquatic resources, warrants careful review.” According to the EPA, the project would permanently impact 1,198 linear ft of streams and temporarily affect 38,312 linear ft. It also would permanently affect 0.5 acres of wetlands, temporarily affect 13.92 acres, and convert 3.7 acres of forested and scrub-shrub wetlands to emergent wetlands.

WV and WY Senators Spar Over Hyperloop

Date: July 21, 2021

Development of the Virgin Hyperloop certification center on 800 acres of land crossing Tucker and Grant counties recently sparked a testy exchange between US senators, according to Metro News. US Senate Energy Chairman Joe Manchin, D-WV, supports development of the emerging technology, but US Senator John Barrasso, R-WY, offered an amendment to stop hyperloop’s eligibility for an Energy Department loan. Barrasso called hyperloop “expensive science fiction” and compared it to high-speed rail. “If high-speed rail is any guide,” he said, “this bill would allow millions in taxpayer money to be loaned to companies that will end up being hyperloops to nowhere.” Manchin, however, called the project “a giant leap forward into the future of transportation” and an opportunity for domestic manufacturing and job creation.

Barrasso’s amendment ended in a tie vote, killing it.

Mining Reclamation Program at Risk

Date: June 8, 2021

The state’s mining reclamation program is at risk of slipping into insolvency, according to a new state legislative audit, reports the Gazette Mail. The audit report, presented to a joint panel of state senators and delegates, “finds that the state Department of Environmental Protection has failed to comply with state and federal law in its reclamation program oversight, resulting in missed opportunities to financially shore up a program that will keep requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to reclaim permit sites per federal regulations.”

The report finds that the state’s current per acre coal mining reclamation bond limits may not be enough to guarantee the solvency of the program. “Rising reclamation costs have devalued permit bonds since the current bonding limits were established by state code in 2001, the report observes, while the cost of reclamation has increased significantly.”

An article in Grist that was published before the state audit was released, called the state’s reclamation funding system “broken.” An attorney for the Sierra Club said, “All of the backstops that are supposed to be in place to make sure that at the end of the day nobody has to live next to an abandoned coal mine — all of those backstops are now threatened.”

Meanwhile, a civil engineering team from WVU is in the final stages of developing a 10-year research project to restore a 40-acre abandoned mine refuse site in Greenbrier County. The project will use geomorphic landform design to mitigate acid mine drainage originating from the waste pile.

Council Rejects Engineering Education Proposal for Wheeling

Date: June 8, 2021

The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education rejected Bluefield State College’s request to bring a new Engineering and Manufacturing Center to Wheeling, according to the Intelligencer. City leaders enthusiastically greeted the proposal and intended to lease the college space at the former Ohio Valley Medical Center campus. The proposal, however, met with opposition from West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling University, and West Liberty University due to concerns about bringing another institution of higher learning into the local market. The article says, “the council’s decision to nix Bluefield’s proposal focused on a lack of demonstrated workforce demand for the proposed programs.”

Engineering Attention Grabber: The Wellsburg Bridge

Date: May 14, 2021

Anyone looking for a case study on the excitement of engineering need look no further than Wellsburg. Over the past month, the new prefabricated Wellsburg Bridge was floated down the Ohio River, pivoted, and lifted into place, where it will connect Brooke County, West Virginia’s Route 2 and Brilliant, Ohio’s Route 7. The Division of Highways live streamed the entire trip. The project is scheduled for completion in fall 2022, reports Metro News.

Tony Clark, P.E., shares his thoughts in this video from WVDOT.

Tank Exemption Bill Fails

Date: May 14, 2021

A bill (H.B. 2598) that would have eased regulation of oil and gas storage tanks near drinking water intakes did not pass the legislature, reports the Gazette. The law, in part, requires tank owners or operators to ensure secondary containment area inspections once every 14 days, and have a PE or other qualified inspector inspect tank systems once every three years. The bill would have exempted the category of tanks closest to water intakes holding up to nearly 9,000 gallons of oil or gas from regulation under the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. The law was enacted in 2014 after a spill of approximately 10,000 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal contaminated the drinking water of about 300,000 West Virginia residents.

West Virginia Permits Tax-Free Savings for Licensing, Certification Fees

Date: April 22, 2021

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed legislation on March 19 allowing residents to save and invest funds to cover the costs associated with pursuing a trade or occupation and for business startups.

The Jumpstart Savings Act (H.B. 2001) authorizes tax-free contributions up to $25,000 each year to a state-managed savings account for the following expenses: 1) The purchase of tools, equipment, or supplies to complete an apprenticeship program or earn an associate’s degree or certificate for a specified occupation or profession, 2) Fees for required certification or licensure to practice a trade or occupation, and 3) Costs incurred that are necessary to establish and operate a business for a specified occupation or profession.

A savings account can be opened by an individual with a minimum deposit of $25 beginning July 1, 2022 with a single person named as a beneficiary. If the designated beneficiary is a West Virginia resident under the age of 18, the state treasurer will contribute $100 from the Jumpstart Savings Expense Fund. This contribution will also apply if an account has been opened within 180 days after a beneficiary has enrolled in an apprenticeship or educational program. Qualified employers can make matching contributions to an employee’s account and receive a nonrefundable tax credit up to $5,000 per year for each employee.

Tax on Professional Services Proposed

Date: April 22, 2021

The West Virginia Senate passed an amended income tax bill (H.B. 3300) by an 18-16 vote on April 7. This bill includes a statewide sales tax increase from 6% to 8%.

The legislation has raised concerns because it could place a 3% tax on professional services like accounting, architecture, engineering, and legal services.

Nitro-St. Albans Bridge Project Kicks Off

Date: April 22, 2021

West Virginia state leaders recently held a groundbreaking for a $225 million West Virginia DOT construction project involving the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge.

Nitro-St. Albans Bridge Project Kicks Off

Constructing a new bridge over the Kanawah River is part of the DOT’s I-64 multi-year improvement project that will widen I-64 from the US 35/I-64 Interchange to just east of the Nitro Interchange. The goal is to widen I-64 to improve traffic volume capacity, enhance safety, and support continued economic growth in the area. According to the DOT, the bridge now carries approximately 70,000 vehicles per day. An increase in traffic volume has resulted in congestion, sudden stops, and collisions along I-64.

Commuters recently expressed excitement and nervousness about the improvement project with a 2023 projected completion date. Once complete, the new bridge will be called the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge.

Highway Division Needs Engineers

Date: March 15, 2021

The West Virginia Division of Highways needs engineers, reports Metro News. A spokesperson said the agency needs to replace those engineers who are retiring. “What we’re trying to do is hire in some engineer trainees out of school, When someone retires, not only do you lose that knowledge as it goes out the door. That’s not something you replace overnight, you need to look long term into the future and hire people who can learn those things over a period of years,” the spokesperson said. The agency is seeing applicants from the University of Nebraska, Ohio University, and George Mason University in addition to the schools that are regular recruitment stops: WVU, Bluefield State, Fairmont State, WVU Tech, University of Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.

Engineering Education Controversy Comes to Wheeling

Date: March 15, 2021

Wheeling’s efforts to bring Bluefield State College to the city are stirring some controversy over engineering education, according to the Intelligencer. The city and Bluefield State are collaborating to establish a new Engineering and Manufacturing Center, but officials at West Virginia Northern Community College, West Liberty University, and Wheeling University have expressed “strong disappointment” in the move. They argue the move will cause “negative consequences” for one or all of the local institutions, all of which dispute the assertion that there is a local void in engineering degree programs.

County To Hire Staff PE

Date: February 11, 2021

The Harrison County Commission voted 2-1 to hire an on-staff engineer, who is required to hold a West Virginia PE license, reports the Exponent Telegram. The commissioners who supported the new position believe the move will help the county save money. Commissioner Patsy Trecost say the engineer could assist with projects such as courthouse remodeling, removal of the courthouse jail annex, new roofing at the Public Safety Building in Nutter Fort, the law enforcement headquarters and storage facility in downtown Clarksburg and work at the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center. The salary range begins at $77,000.

Study: While Natural Gas Boomed, Local Economies Didn’t

Date: February 11, 2021

Despite the natural gas boom, the top gas-producing counties in the Ohio Valley still lag behind the rest of the nation economically, according to a study by the nonprofit think tank Ohio River Valley Institute. The study covers 22 Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia counties that produce more than 90% of the region’s natural gas.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the study. “What we’re seeing is almost the definition of the resource curse, and that is great economic growth with very little, if any, impact on local measures of prosperity,” Sean O’Leary, senior researcher at the institute, said of the report during a webinar last week that focused on the so-far unrealized dream of a petrochemical boom in Appalachia.

Wind Farm Construction Begins

Date: January 27, 2021

On the Grant-Mineral county line, construction has started on a 23-turbine wind farm called Black Rock Wind, according to Metro News. The project, owned by Clearway Energy, is slated for completion before the end of 2021. Each turbine will generate 5 megawatts, and the power will be provided to Toyota and American Electric Power. “We still don’t want to forget, in any way, our coal mine jobs, our natural gas jobs, or our oil jobs and how important they are,” said Governor Justice. “But we have embraced our role as an all-encompassing energy state. We want to welcome alternatives, and this wind farm will absolutely amp up our wind production in this great state in a big way and will help us move forward with great jobs.”

The Bechtel-Reed & Reed Joint Venture will engineer, procure, and construct the farm. The Siemens-Gamesa SG 5.0-145 wind turbines will be on 107.5-meter tall towers.

Paul A. Hornor, Jr., P.E.

Date: January 27, 2021

Paul A. Hornor, Jr., P.E., a member of WVSPE and NSPE since 1962 and former leader of the oldest engineering firm in the state, passed away on January 15 at the age of 85. In 1902, brothers Carl L. Hornor and Paul S. Hornor opened Hornor Brothers Engineers, centered in Clarksburg. The firm was instrumental to the development of the city and north-central region of the state, providing surveying and engineering services for railroad, coal mine, and municipal projects. Hornor started his career at the company in 1963 and became president in 1983. Read the September/October 2019 PE magazine article about the firm and the obituary in the Exponent Telegram.

Firms in West Virginia and Wales Launch Energy Storage Partnership

Date: December 16, 2020

A Monongalia County manufacturer has been selected as the US partner for a Welsh technology firm that will be building a new facility for energy storage development in Morgantown. The facility is expected to bring up to 1,000 manufacturing and technology jobs to the state. According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the partnership between DST Innovations in Wales and Blue Rock Manufacturing “plans to build a reactor next to a source of coal in West Virginia to reduce the coal to hard carbon that can be used to create batteries and supercapacitors.” The facility is designed to be part of the Dragon Energy Island project that DST Innovations is working to launch in Swansea, Wales. No timeframe was announced for the launch of the facility.

New Telescope Planned for Greenbank Observatory

Date: December 16, 2020

An assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU, has received a grant to build a new radio telescope at the Green Bank Observatory, according to the Williamson Daily News. The telescope will work in concert with two others in Canada to triangulate the positions of targeted objects. These telescopes will then connect to a much larger telescope in British Columbia to identify precise locations. The telescopes will be searching for Fast Radio Bursts, among the brightest objects in the universe, to gain greater understanding of their nature and origin.

PE Wins Reelection to House Seat

Date: November 18, 2020

Longtime NSPE/WVSPE member David McKinley, P.E., won reelection to the House of Representatives, defeating Democrat Natalie Cline. He has represented District 1 in northern West Virginia since 2011. Born in Wheeling in 1947, McKinley graduated from Purdue University with a degree in civil engineering and spent 12 years in the construction industry before establishing his own firm. Today, McKinley Architecture and Engineering has offices in Wheeling, Charleston, and Pittsburgh.

WVU’s Engineering Expertise Helped Attract Hyperloop Center

Date: November 18, 2020

“A unique blend of expertise in multiple areas of engineering at West Virginia University, and a shared purpose have culminated in an integrated solution to meet the unique challenges of the Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center, slated to be located in the West Virginia highlands,” reports The university’s selling points include expertise in the integration of high strength polymer composites into various types of infrastructure, electromagnetic systems, vacuum systems, mining, autonomous systems, and advanced manufacturing. The area terrain and soil conditions were also optimal for the six-mile test track.

Hyperloop Testbed Slated for West Virginia

Date: October 28, 2020

Virgin Hyperloop has selected the site of a former coal mine in Grant and Tucker counties as the location for a new $500 million certification center and six-mile test track for an alternative high-speed transportation system, according to Engineering News-Record. The facility will be the first US regulatory proving ground for the high-speed travel system. Federal regulators will use the facility to establish hyperloop regulatory and safety standards, building upon regulatory framework guidance issued in July by the US Department of Transportation. Virgin Hyperloop says its system can propel passenger or cargo pods at speeds of over 1,000 km/h.

Plans for Natural Gas Plant Abandoned

Date: October 28, 2020

A developer has dropped plans for a 920-MW natural gas-fired power plant in Brooke County due to changing market conditions and alleged interference from the coal industry, reports Power magazine. The West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved $5.6-million loan guarantee for the project on September 9. The article says, “a political push and pull involving an array of business, industry, union groups, and state leadership appears to have doomed the project.”

2020 WV Construction & Design Expo

Date: March 25–25, 2020
Expo 2020

The WV Construction and Design Expo is all about helping you find better, faster, smarter, cleaner and more efficient ways to get things done. Get a snapshot of the latest and greatest products and companies in the design and construction industries.

E-Week Activities-Archives

During E-Week, on February 21, 2019 at the Four Points Sheraton in Charleston, WV, WVSPE held a Scholarship and Celebration Dinner. WVSPE member Ed Robinson, P.E., P.S., served as the keynote speaker. Several scholarships were awarded. Read the program for a list of all scholarship winners. 

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Pictured above: President, David Weaver, P.E. and a scholarship winner, Jared Neehouse

36th Annual MATHCOUNTS Competition

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The 36th Annual MATHCOUNTS competition was held at Braxton County Middle School on March 23rd. Representatives from 15 schools across West Virginia assembled to contend for the opportunity to represent West Virginia in the National Competition in Orlando, FL on May 11th -May 14th.
The middle school students gathered bright and early to put their math skills to the test. Those talented students took a math test that determined the top school teams and top individuals of West Virginia. The top four individual winners will represent West Virginia in the National Competition in Florida. Ryan Butler from Suncrest Middle School will coach the West Virginia National team.

Read the official Press Release for more information on the event and winners.

West Virginia Society at the 2018 Professional Engineers Conference

From July 18–22 in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace, NSPE members enjoyed an exciting week full of exceptional education programs, speakers, and great networking.


West Virginia Society Members