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2nd power plant more cause to celebrate

As I held the shovel in my hand with the hardhat on my head, standing next to Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill and other important dignitaries, I had not yet fully grasped the monumental significance of the symbolic event.

I am referring to the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Trumbull Energy Center (TEC), better known throughout the Valley by its more technical name, “The Second Power Plant.” We are all familiar with “The First Power Plant,” Lordstown Energy Center, mostly because we vividly remember celebrating the benefits received from $1 billion of economic investment.

Maybe it’s because billion-dollar investments in the Valley have become somewhat commonplace, even expected, that I had not yet processed the significance of holding that shovel, of tossing some of the first couple pounds of dirt, of yet another large ($1.2 billion) investment. But now that I have had time to fully reflect, I am overcome with excitement over this project.

For example, here are just a few of the financial benefits:

• From construction through its 40 years of operation, TEC will result in an estimated $1.8 billion of economic activity, including payments for local services, payments to local schools and governments and contributions to local non-profits.

• During the construction phase alone, TEC is expected to generate

$707 million of economic activity for Ohio, plus $416 million more that will stay in the Valley.

• Our tax base will grow substantially, including $800,000 up front, followed by $1 million annually for 15 years to Lordstown schools, $15 million in state and local taxes during construction and then $8.7 million in nonproperty tax revenue during operation.

Now let’s talk about jobs and payroll for a moment. My colleagues often have heard me lament about an embarrassing statistic. The stat that eats at me is that between the years 2000 and 2020, Trumbull County lost more than $1 billion of annual payroll.

Constructing The Second Power Plant will take 2 million worker hours performed by more than 400 people in construction trades in Lordstown, with an additional 600 jobs created throughout the Valley and Ohio. This will result in $186 million of new payroll over the three-year construction period.

Now let’s also talk about some other stuff, nonmonetary stuff, stuff that we don’t often think about.

Stuff like the environment.

The Second Power Plant uses technology that emits 90 percent less sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and fine particulate matter than coal-fired power plants and half as much CO2. As a community, we take great pride in emerging as one of the world’s leaders in electric vehicle manufacturing, even self-stamping the “Voltage Valley” moniker across our chest. It’s vital that, with the same enthusiasm, we embrace technology such as that used by TEC to cleanly produce the electricity needed to support our EV industry.

The Regional Chamber also embraces having an all-of-the-above energy policy heavily influenced by free-market, competitive enterprises. The cost of electricity produced by private-sector plants like the Trumbull Energy Center is at least half the cost of electricity produced by any utility-owned plant. If we want to be competitive in attracting new companies, low cost and reliable energy from “all-of-the-above” sources including free-market enterprises is necessary.

There’s even more non-monetary stuff, like welcoming ethnic and cultural diversity, that benefits our community.

The investors in The Second Power Plant include Korea Southern Power Co., or KOSPO, and Korea Overseas Infrastructure & Urban Development Corp., or KIND. Across the street is a sprawling factory partly owned by Korea-based LG Chem. Next door to that is a sprawling factory owned by Taiwan-based Foxconn.

This is unfamiliar territory for the Valley, but something we have longed for since the first wave of immigration filled our factories nearly a century ago. Finally, we once again get to welcome newcomers from afar to experience our wonderful quality of life — architecturally striking theaters that house great live entertainment, world class golf courses, first-rate parks and lakes, and the list goes on.

Not long ago, the Valley, especially the Village of Lordstown, was licking its wounds. Today, we have another reason to celebrate. And once again the Village of Lordstown and Mayor Arno Hill are at the epicenter of our good fortune.

Guy Coviello is president & CEO of the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber.

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