Gaunch: Reinstated Energy Board To Explore, Promote Ideas

West Virginia Department of Commerce Cabinet Secretary Ed Gaunch speaks with reporters in a virtual press conference on March 26, 2020.

West Virginia’s newly reinstated Public Energy Authority Board will work to explore and promote ideas, according to its chairman.

West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch leads the potentially powerful board according to state statute and told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he envisions the panel as one that will be a springboard for ideas.

“We see ourselves, I think, maybe as a catalyst to recommend actions in the future,” he said. “Right now, I have no idea what those might be.”

State code gives the board powers that would include entering contracts with other parties to operate energy-related projects, the newspaper reported. That includes financing electric power or natural gas transmission projects. It could also use eminent domain to take property.

“I don’t see us doing any of that,” Gaunch said. “I think we’ll get organized, kind of learn the lay of the land, where we are, and then move forward.”

The board went dormant in the 2010s and Gov. Jim Justice reactivated it last year.