By Ed Runyan
Clean Energy Future Lordstown LLC of Boston has asked Lordstown village to rezone 57 acres from general business and residential to industrial, so it can build an $800 million electricity-generation facility on Salt Springs Road.
William Siderewicz, company owner, talked about the project with the Lords-town Planning Commission and about 100 residents Monday, saying it would employ 25 to 30 people.
It would be privately owned and use natural gas to generate electricity-using turbines. The electricity would enter the power grid using electrical lines available nearby, said Arno Hill, Lordstown mayor and member of the planning commission.
The land is at 1107 Salt Springs Road, site of the former Peterson Hardware, and is a mile east of state Route 45.
Siderewicz said during an interview Tuesday that using natural gas to generate electricity is much cleaner than plants that use coal. Gas-powered plants produce no sulfur and half as much carbon dioxide as coal, he said.
The meeting went on for about three hours, with many residents asking questions, Siderewicz said. “If I were a citizen, I’d be asking the same questions,” he said.
Clean Energy Future has similar facilities in Fremont, Ohio, and is planning to break ground for another one in Lucas County this July.
Such facilities exist “from here to California to Florida,” but the nearest one is run by FirstEnergy in Lorain, he said.
The fact that there is a shale-gas industry in eastern Ohio is “a huge bonus,” but the facility could exist here without that, he said.
Hill said the five-member planning commission could have voted to approve or reject the zoning change at Monday’s meeting, but it will take up to 30 more days to further evaluate the proposal before voting.
“We’re not here to ram anything through. We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard,” Hill said.
If the planning commission approves the zoning change, it goes to the full village council, which would have a public hearing and could override the decision of the commission if five of six members voted against it.
Zoning changes receive three readings, Hill said.
At this point, Hill said he has “no idea” whether the zoning change is likely to go forward. The financial backing for the plant would involve half of the money coming from private investors and the other half coming from big banks, Hill said.
The company wants the entire property, which is behind and beside the former hardware store, to be rezoned, but the plant would use only 14 acres, Hill said.
If the project is approved, construction would begin in December 2015, and it would begin operations in December 2018.