2nd power plant’s future uncertain

WARREN — The future of a second natural gas-fired power plant in Lordstown is unclear as the companies behind the project continue to engage in a legal battle.

Clean Energy Future, LLC, which already has the $900 million Lordstown Energy Center under construction off Henn Parkway that was given a green-light by the Ohio Power Siting Board in 2015, received construction approval in October from the board for a twin power plant dubbed the Trumbull Energy Center slated for construction adjacent to the first plant. The second plant is also expected to cost around $900 million to construct, putting the total project investment around $1.8 billion.

The projects are a venture of Clean Energy Future, LLC, which William Siderewicz heads, and Clean Energy Future Lordstown. The Macquarie Group is the lead owner of Clean Energy Future Lordstown with around 70 percent ownership, according to court documents, while Siemens Financial Services Inc. owns 26 percent and Clean Energy Future LLC owns 4 percent.

Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said there are deed restrictions on the land on which the plants are built, which are at the center of the legal dispute because Clean Energy Future Lordstown hasn’t signed deed restrictions for the second plant, and wants a study done to see how the second plant will impact the first, causing a delay in the project moving forward.

“(Siderewicz) was under the assumption that when the deed restrictions were signed for the first plant it carried over to the second one,” Hill said. “Well, Macquarie does not feel that same way.”

Macquarie in August said it wanted a study to see how the second plant if built might impact the first plant, Hill said, yet the study has yet to be seen. In September Clean Energy Future LLC filed suit against Clean Energy Future Lordstown seeking to have the latter sign the deed restriction.

In November the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas granted Clean Energy Future LLC a preliminary injunction and ordered Clean Energy Future Lordstown to sign the deed restriction, to the objection of Clean Energy Future Lordstown which said it will suffer annual losses of $6.7 million between 2021 and 2036 if required to comply with the preliminary injunction, according to court documents.

The decision was appealed Nov. 30 by Clean Energy Future Lordstown and Friday the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal.

Barry Brits, general manager of the Lordstown Energy Center, sent the following statement via email:

âLordstown Energy Center will continue to protect its rights to successfully complete and operate its project, which will result in a $900 million investment in the community and bring 1,500,000 hours of construction work to 900 union construction workers. Now that Clean Energy Future has chosen to initiate a lengthy litigation process, LEC will enforce its rights to protect the LEC project in the Lordstown Industrial Park and resolve the matter fairly.ã

Hill said if the second plant doesn’t move forward, Lordstown loses out on jobs for both construction and plant employees and tax revenue, and the schools wouldn’t realize about $1 million annually for years to come. However, the village and the school district still stand to see revenue from the first plant, and Hill said he believes the parties will work out the dispute and move forward with construction of the second plant.

“I would hope in the next month or two things will be resolved,” Hill said.

Construction of the first plant, or Lordstown Energy Center, should be done by June.