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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Power plant plan is on hold



Published: Tue, August 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A deal to have a Missouri company buy Cogentrix Energy has fallen through.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- A North Carolina company's plans to build a $600 million power plant in Center Township are on hold.

Cogentrix Energy Inc. is citing a poor general economy and a weak power market as its reasons for shelving the project.

The Charlotte company will "take a wait and see posture" regarding its plans in Columbiana County, Jef Freeman said today.

The company will continue seeking the environmental permits necessary from Ohio to build the plant. Originally, the company intended to begin construction this year and have the plant operating by mid-2004.

Now no specific construction schedule is in place.

Cogentrix will "keep the project on a posture where, if the market does rebound, we can move it forward," Freeman said.

Permission to build

Earlier this year, the company received permission from the Ohio Power Siting Board to build the plant at a 150-acre site along St. Jacob-Logtown Road.

On Thursday, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public hearing on Cogentrix's application for a permit to discharge emissions from the natural-gas fired plant into the air.

In another development, Cogentrix and Aquila Inc., a Kansas City, Mo.-based energy company, have scrapped plans for Aquila to buy Cogentrix.

The $415 million deal was to have been finalized next month.

"Both companies agreed that the current uncertainty of the electric power market made proceeding with the transaction impractical and not in either company's best interest," the companies said in a prepared statement.

There were signs earlier this summer that something was amiss regarding Cogentrix's plans to build a plant in Center Township.

In mid-July, county water district officials said they were abandoning negotiations with Cogentrix for the district to provide water to the power plant.

Cogentrix officials have said the plant will need millions of gallons of water daily to cool the electric-producing turbines.

But water district officials complained that recent efforts to contact Cogentrix to negotiate a water deal failed.




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