Proposed plant could power jobs

LORDSTOWN – Proposed construction of an $800 million natural gas-powered energy plant here may be more than 18 months away, but builders already are jumping on board.

Public discussions Monday involving the president of Clean Energy Future and the Lordstown Planning Commission focused on the proposed Salt Springs Road location, a need for a zone change and generation of property taxes.

But one day later, labor leaders and local company officials were more interested in talking about jobs.

More than 500 skilled tradesmen would be needed to build the plant over the course of the three-year construction project.

Clean Energy Future is looking at a plot of land currently owned by Niles-based Sheldon Gantt Inc. to build a privately funded plant that would generate much-needed electricity and feed the power grid. The proposed site is a 57-acre parcel at 1107 Salt Springs Road.

Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future, who spoke Monday to the Lordstown Planning Commission, estimated the plant would bring 25 to 30 full-time jobs to the village upon completion, but Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building Trades, and Chris Jaskiewicz, president of Girard-based VEC Inc. estimate the number of regular workers will be much greater than that.

“Operating jobs are normally less than 100 because it’s so automated,” Crane said. “But still, construction jobs will carry on for the life of the plant. They will keep a skilled maintenance force.”

The plant could help replace the power production lost when a Niles coal-fired energy generation plant shut down in 2012.

The Niles plant had maintained a skilled labor maintenance force upward of a hundred boilermakers or millwrights, Crane said. While a newer gas-fired plant would require fewer maintenance workers, dozens likely would be kept busy.

“Construction maintenance work, probably in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 construction jobs 40 weeks out of the year, and then bigger numbers during repairs,” Crane estimated of the need.

Jaskiewicz said he was contacted more than a month ago to discuss construction logistics and manpower resources. His company, VEC, is a large local industrial construction company affiliated with several construction arms, including oil and gas construction services.

“Their main concern was all about local people,” Jaskiewicz said, noting that he took the time to review lists of skilled tradesmen to ensure the availability of a qualified local construction work force. He said he has no worries that enough skilled workers exist locally to build the plant.

“It’s a large project, and it will create a lot of construction jobs,” Jaskiewicz said. “You are talking about investing a lot of money to people that are going to stay in this area.”

Crane pointed out the addition of a local modern energy generating plant also would make the area attractive for trickle-down industries.

“To have this kind of a player going in, it would industrialize that whole area and change the face of it,” Crane said.

Siderewicz said the plant would bring the village upward of $100 million in property taxes over the next 40 years. If the plant is approved, Siderewicz estimated it would break ground in December 2015 and see full-scale operation three years later. Siderewicz said this location is key due to its proximity to already-established high voltage power lines.

It is expected that a large natural gas pipeline would feed the plant.

“It’s another spinoff industry coming from what they are finding in the Utica in Ohio,” Jaskiewicz said.