Water seen as cash flow

Supplying energy sites will profit Warren, Niles

LORDSTOWN — Warren and Niles stand to earn more cash for their water funds when the Lordstown power plants begin operations over the next several years.

The plants could use up to five million gallons of water every day once fully operational, Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill said.

“That would be a significant bump in production and revenue for the city,” said Warren utilities Director Franco Lucarelli. “The amount of profit the water department could earn would depend on the cost of doing business — chemicals, electricity, etc. — and how much water they actually use.”

The plants are required to have two water suppliers, said Tom Holloway, chief engineer of Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, where Niles buys the water it will sell to the village.

While officials in Niles aren’t ready to put a number to the amount of money the new plants will generate for the city, Warren estimates the sales could be a boon large enough to replace some long-gone businesses.

“It could provide as much as an extra $2 million a year to the department,” Lucarelli said.

In comparison, Lordstown General Motors plant buys an estimated 600,000 gallons per day from Warren. GM is one of the city’s top 10 water users. Trumbull County, which buys 755,000 gallons per day from Warren, is the city’s largest water consumer.

Warren’s water plant pumps about 11.5 million gallons per day to its customers. It has the capacity to process about 22.8 million gallons per day.

MVSD puts out about 21 million gallons a day but could put out 30 million, Holloway said.

Niles Councilman Ryan McNaughton, chair of the utility committee, said the city hasn’t calculated the possible increase in earnings the plants will bring, but it will certainly be beneficial.

“Niles has an advantage because we have more pumping capacity and bigger pipes. We have an idea of how much water they will need, but it will vary, depending on the day,” McNaughton said. “Niles has a really nice seat at the table because of the equipment at our fingertips.”

Matt Blair, president of the MVSD board, stated in a recent letter to city officials that the water needs of the plants would be “substantial” and beneficial to the city.

“These plants are good for the whole region, but I am really glad Niles will be able to reap such direct benefits,” McNaughton said.

Blair stated the plant is interested in purchasing raw and untreated water from Niles for the plant. The legalities of selling untreated water should be looked at by attorneys, Holloway said.

Hill said there are existing lines coming into the village for the water it buys from Niles and Warren, but the lines from Warren are contained mostly to state Route 45, while the Niles lines penetrate the village.

In preparation for the second energy plant, Warren would place an estimated five miles of new water lines from its 24-inch line on Main Street past the former RG Steel plant to Henn Parkway.

If both the Trumbull Energy Center and the Lordstown Energy Center, which is being built by Clean Energy Future LLC, become operational, they will become Warren’s first- and second-largest water customers.

“Together, they will require enough water to replace the water usage the city lost due to the closings and reduction of RG Steel and Copperweld Steel Corporations and Delphi Packard Electric,” Lucarelli said.

“This is significantly more lines than we placed for the Lordstown Energy Center, which required the placement of 1,100 feet of 16 inch water main,” Lucarelli said. “LEC paid for the placement of that line. The placement of those lines cost $800,000.”

Details of what would be required for the second plant have not been established. However, preliminary discussions are there may be a need for an additional pump station and a possibility for an above-ground water tower.

Cost for the placement of lines and other equipment for the second plant could could range from $15 million to $25 million, depending on what is required.

“Similar to the LEC, we will work with developer to make sure our rate payers are not responsible to pay the cost for the construction of the lines for the TEC plant,” Lucarelli said.