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Public hearing set for proposed energy center

LORDSTOWN — So far, most of the comments Mayor Arno Hill said he’s heard about the proposed Trumbull Energy Center have been positive.

But he will be better able to gauge community views on Clean Energy Future’s plans to build its second electric generating facility along Henn Parkway following a public hearing next month, Hill said.

“I’d say 90 percent of what’s being said through the village is positive,” Hill said. “And I haven’t heard anything negative, so that’s good. It’s a good sign and it looks like it’s moving forward. That’s what we want.”

The Ohio Power Siting Board has set the meeting for 6 p.m. July 25 at Lordstown High School, 1824 Salt Springs Road, to allow community members to express their views about the plan that calls for the Boston-based company to build the Trumbull Energy Center next to the Lordstown Energy Center under construction in the Lordstown Industrial Park.

The board, which is reviewing plans for the second facility, is a separate entity within the Ohio Public Utilities Commission responsible for approving plans for the construction of new energy facilities in the state.

The proposed 940-megawatt capacity, natural-gas fired, combined-cycle facility would interconnect to a 345-kilovolt, electric-transmission line owned by American Transmission Systems Inc. Clean Energy Future-Trumbull is looking to start building the proposed energy center in November and begin operating it by June 2020.

An adjudicatory hearing on the project has been set for 10 a.m. Aug. 10 at the Public Utilities Commission office in Columbus.

The state board approved Clean Energy Future’s plans for the Lordstown Energy Center nearly two years ago. The developer broke ground for the $900 million project last year and construction is scheduled to be completed by June 2018.

Siderewicz has described the two projects as “twin” facilities, each designed to do the same job and put out the same amount of energy. Together, they are expected to meet the needs of some 1.7 million customers.

Each facility is projected to have a lifetime, or 40-plus year, positive impact on the Mahoning Valley and Ohio, of about $14 billion, for a total of $28 billion.

Bill Siderewicz, Clean Energy Future’s president, did not respond to Tribune Chronicle requests for comment on the hearings.

Previously, he said the proposed creation of a Zero Emissions Nuclear Resource program, commonly referred to as a ZEN, could halt the development of the second power plant. The proposal, included in Ohio House Bill 178 and Ohio Senate Bill 128, would help keep FirstEnergy nuclear power plants operating while increasing customers’ electric rates.

The Ohio House of Representatives suspended further proceedings on the proposed legislation. But the companion bill remains under consideration in the Ohio Senate. Since no hearings on the matter are scheduled, lawmakers could consider it in the fall.

Earlier this month, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors said it opposes creation of the ZEN. Last week, Hill said he had spent time in Columbus testifying against it.

Siderewicz and local leaders also have spoken out against efforts by major utility companies to see Ohio return to a system by which the state regulates electric rates — a move the developer said would idle his plans. The proposal would allow a single company, like FirstEnergy or American Electric Power, to produce and distribute energy. However, legislation addressing the issue has not yet been introduced.

Since Jan. 1, 2001, Ohio has had a deregulation system in place.

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