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Youngstown Thermal Outage Turns Off Downtown Cooling

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — An outage at Youngstown Thermal’s steam plant, 205 North Ave., means the employees of the company’s 40 or so downtown business customers are likely to swelter today without any cooling-services.

Carl Avers, CEO, says the company is “working on” restoring service. The outage is “not at all” connected to Thermal’s financial difficulties and the pending appointment of a receiver, he adds.

“The fuel oil system that we installed last year, that cost about $1 million, had a failure in the burner and that tripped the boiler,” Avers says.

At 10 a.m. today, he estimated it would “probably take several hours” for heating and cooling services to be restored.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office, on behalf of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio,  filed a complaint July 7 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court seeking an order compelling Thermal to maintain service to its customers through the appointment of a receiver.

The PUCO issued an order June 30 that determined the company’s financial condition “presents a serious risk that service will not be provided to the customers.”

Avers tells The Business Journal a receiver could be appointed as soon as today.

The receiver would “facilitate the collection of accounts receivable, the creation of accurate accounting records and the establishment of new rates of service, all of which are necessary for the continuation of utility service to Youngstown Thermal’s customers,” the regulatory agency said.

As of June 15, Youngstown Thermal owed more than $200,000 to natural gas, electric and water service suppliers. The PUCO staff also found that Youngstown Thermal owed more than $7 million on a term loan secured in 2011 for $5 million.

Avers says the company is owned more than $1.1 million by four customers, one of which is the city of Youngstown.

He maintains that two French companies are interested in working with him and his company to build a much larger district heating system. “We’re meeting with customers to get letters of intent from them,” he says.

Youngstown Thermal’s financial problems first came to light in July 2015 when it was learned that the loss of YSU would reduce the company’s $5 million in annual revenues by $2.3 million. Concurrently, Avers was embroiled in a two-year, contentious personal bankruptcy liquidation in which he listed $59.7 million worth of liabilities and just $5,100 in assets.

CLICK HERE to read PUCO staff report

BACKGROUND
Nov. 8, 2016: Youngstown Thermal Makes Its Case to City Council
Oct. 2, 2015: Youngstown Thermal Named Test Site for $75M Project
July 31, 2015: Avers Responds to Stories about Youngstown Thermal
July 28, 2015: $5M Price Tag for Thermal’s Turnaround Plan
July 25, 2015: Thermal Losing 60% of Revenue; CEO in Bankruptcy

 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.