Trumbull Energy Center’s extension granted
LORDSTOWN — A state regulatory agency, as expected, has granted a time extension to start construction on Trumbull Energy Center, a proposed $1.2 billion natural-gas fired power plant that would become the second in the village.
The Ohio Power Siting Board on Thursday OK’d Clean Energy Future-Trumbull LLC’s appeal to extend the Oct. 5 deadline one year for what’s called a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, which in simple language is approval to construct.
The six-person board said little on the vote, but a journal entry filed after the hearing provided some details on their decision.
Clean Energy Future’s request, part of an amended application to the board, “does not result in any material increase in any environmental impact of a substantial change in the location of all or a portion of the facility,” negating the need for a hearing on the request and paving the way to approve the amended application.
The company made the request in March, citing the hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact to the construction schedule of the plant — Trumbull Energy Center.
“Nearly two years after the beginning of the pandemic, the world is still dealing with the compounding nature and lingering effects of COVID-19. The project is not immune from these effects, which has ultimately delayed the financing and start of construction of the project,” Clean Energy Future’s request states.
Clean Energy Future’s request received broad support from local economic development and public officials, but received some initial pushback from village officials.
Shortly after Clean Energy Future made the request on March 29, Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill and Kellie Bordner, village planning and zoning administrator / economic development director, wrote opposing the request, citing several concerns.
Those included wanting to know what the certificate means in the context of the village’s planning and zoning code and / or environmental permitting reviewed for land development projects.
Hill later verbally walked back the letter saying he was OK with the extension.
He followed that with a July 8 letter to the siting board memorializing in writing his request that the board withdraw the March 29 letter from consideration and urged it to grant the extension.
Hill’s letter on July 8 came three days after the village’s Board of Public Affairs and council separately approved a water-service agreement with Warren to provide the utility to the plant.
Those decisions followed weeks of delay while there was debate over whether Warren or the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District would provide the water, throwing the entire plan into jeopardy.
Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future-Trumbull, said the economic benefit of the plant is more than $16 billion.
“Given the positive contribution of TEC (Trumbull Energy Center) to Ohio, I would have been surprised if the OPSB (Ohio Power Siting Board) didn’t provide an extension, given the COVID factor,” Siderewicz wrote in an email.
Since the majority owners of the plant are from South Korea, the project still needs to pass through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is part of the U.S. Treasury that reviews certain transactions involving foreign investment in the U.S. to determine their effect on national security.
Once that happens, Siderewicz wrote, ground can be broken. He projects financing to close in mid- to late- September.
The plant is planned for land on Henn Parkway near state Route 45 and adjacent to the existing Lordstown Energy Center that opened in 2018.