Community backs 2nd power plant

LORDSTOWN — With few concerns and minimal safety issues related to the construction of the first power plant along Henn Parkway, there is no reason to keep a second facility from going in next door, local leaders said.

Village fire Chief Travis Eastham said his department has responded to eight calls since construction of the Lordstown Energy Center started in April 2016. Of those, six were medical emergencies, one involved a mismarked gas line and the other was related to a welding spark that started a small fire that was out before emergency crews arrived, Eastham said.

“I’ve talked to residents who live not far from the construction (site) and I feel really confident from a safety standpoint about this second project,” he said. “I support it 100 percent as the fire chief, and I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a second power plant.”

About 200 people, including at least two dozen area construction workers, gathered at Lordstown High School on Tuesday night for a public hearing on the proposed Trumbull Energy Center.

The 25 people who spoke said they support Massachusetts-based Clean Energy Future’s plan to build the second $900 million electric generating facility adjacent to one already under construction.

Police Chief Brent Milhoan said he was aware a petition was filed against the second facility based on safety and security, but his department has “no major safety or security concerns” related to either project. He said off-duty police officers have been providing security at the first facility since construction started.

Earlier this month, Vienna Investments LLC filed a petition with the Ohio Power Siting Board — a separate entity within the Ohio Public Utilities Commission responsible for approving plans for the construction of new energy facilities in the state — seeking notification of developments in the project. The company, which cited safety concerns, owns 1702 Henn Parkway next to Clean Energy’s second proposed power plant. The Vienna Investments’ property houses Magna Seating Systems, which supplies seating for the Chevrolet Cruze sedan made at the General Motors Assembly Complex in Lordstown.

No one from Vienna Investments spoke at Tuesday’s hearing. An adjudicatory hearing on the Trumbull Energy Center is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 10 at the Public Utilities Commission office in Columbus.

Milhoan said he believes there is “no merit” to the company’s petition.

“My understanding is they’re concerned with safety with plant number two. The way I look at it, is it appears, plant two will be very similar if not identical with plant one,” he said.

Milhoan said since construction started police have received “very few” calls to respond to the plant. They resulted from an intoxicated employee who was terminated, a traffic incident when a semitrailer backed into a ditch, employee threats directed at a supervisor, two cases of employees arrested on active warrants and minor theft and criminal mischief reports.

“Plant one kind of speaks to what we can anticipate plant two will be like,” Milhoan said.

He said he expects the second plant, like the first one, to be a good neighbor to Lordstown.

About eight residents who live along Mud Creek said they are concerned about potential flooding from water being discharged from the second plant into a retention pond. The plan calls for the excess water to flow into the creek.

Steven Remillard, lead developer of the second plant, said Clean Energy leaders plan to reach out to those residents to address their questions.

“I’m not against the project, but we already have flooding problems in that area,” said resident Joe DiEugenio. “I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Rocco DiGennaro, president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council; Marty Loney, business agent for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396; and other trades leaders, said they fully support the second plant and appreciate the opportunity it would give area workers.

Lordstown Local School District Superintendent Terry Armstrong and other leaders stressed the positive impact the first project has had on the school district and community.