Battle over Lordstown gas plants closer to resolution


WARREN

The legal battle between the majority owners of the first Lordstown gas-powered plant nearing the end of construction in the Lordstown Industrial Park and the developer of the proposed second power is closer to a resolution.

Judge Peter Kontos of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court ruled on Friday in favor of William Siderewicz, who is trying to develop the second plant, in ruling that the majority owners of the first plant are in contempt of the court’s earlier ruling that it cooperate with Siderewicz.

A contempt ruling means the owners of the first plant are disobeying an order of Judge Kontos.

The majority owner of the first plant is the international financial company Macquarie Group. In 2017, Macquarie delayed a decision on whether to sign off on a document that would give the go-ahead to the second plant, saying it needed time to study the financial impact the second plant would have on the first plant.

But in November, Judge Kontos ordered the Macquarie-led group to sign off on the document because of promises made earlier.

Friday’s decision says the Macquarie-led group is in contempt for failing to meet its obligations to assist Siderewicz in getting approvals for the second plant.

Specifically, the Macquarie-led group in December 2017 sent a letter to Siderewicz identifying 19 land uses it required for property Siderewicz needs for the second plant.

Judge Kontos agreed with Siderewicz in his ruling Friday that the 19 uses were unreasonable in that they would cost Siderewicz $200 million and were not raised at the appropriate time.

“In this case [the Macquarie-led group] deliberately defied the court’s order” through Feb. 27 through its demands, Judge Kontos ruled.

The court will hold off on sanctions against the Macquarie-led group until resolution of the next phase of the case, referred to as a “motion to enforce settlement.”

That part is scheduled for a 10 a.m. Aug. 17 hearing before Judge Kontos. A permanent-injunction hearing is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 24.

Siderewicz has maintained that the Macquarie-led group’s goal is to prevent the second plant from being built.

Eric Stasiowski, spokesperson for the first plant, known as the Lordstown Energy Center, said the company is reviewing the ruling but has no other comment at this time. The plant’s ribbon cutting is several weeks away, Stasiowski said.

The two plants are expected to cost about $900 million each to construct, and each involves about 900 temporary construction jobs and billions worth of dollars of impact on the Mahoning Valley over the next 40 years, officials have said.

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