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NatGas-Fired Power Plant Proposed For Northeast Ohio

A privately-owned electricity wholesale company from Massachusetts is proposing an 800 MW natural gas-fired power plant to be built on 57-acres in Lordstown, OH, about 16 miles northwest of Youngstown.

Clean Energy Future LLC, which has developed similar facilities from Maine to California, including others in Northwest Ohio and Pennsylvania, made its pitch before the village's planning commission and dozens of residents on Monday.

Clean Energy selected the site not only because of its position amidst the shale gas boom in Ohio's Utica Shale and Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, but also because Lordstown is near an electricity corridor with power lines that connect Cleveland and Pittsburgh, two major markets in the region.

The facility, which would use natural gas to power two turbines, would cost about $800 million to build, according to Clean Energy's presentation. The project could employ hundreds during the construction process and create 25-30 jobs once the plant is operational.

Although similar natural gas-fired plants have been proposed throughout the region, particularly in western Pennsylvania, Clean Energy's pitch is among one of the first of its kind for Northeast Ohio. It also comes at a time when demand for coal is waning across the country, as it faces competitive prices from natural gas (see Daily GPI, Feb. 14; March 3) and an uphill battle against tougher emissions standards.

While demand for coal overseas is expected to remain stable and grow at a modest rate, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last month that coal-fired plant retirements in the United States are increasing (see Daily GPI, March 20). In 2013, EIA said 40 GW would be retired by 2020, but in a preview of its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 issued in March, its predictions increased markedly to 60 GW for the same time period.

The 57-acre tract would have to be rezoned for industrial use by Lordstown for Clean Energy's plant. Village Mayor Arno Hill said the five-member planning commission will have to evaluate the proposal before a vote can be taken, which could take another month or so. If the planning commission approves the change, it would then head to the village council for review and a public hearing.

Ultimately, if the project is given a green light, Clean Energy has indicated that construction would begin in December 2015 for an in-service date of December 2018.

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