$890M Energy Plant Puts Broad Smiles on All Faces

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Bill Siderewicz smiled with satisfaction Monday as he looked upon a large tract of land along Henn Parkway, just east of state Route 45.

What he saw were earth-moving vehicles, tall cranes, and dozens of workers laying the foundation of what will be a $890 million natural gas-fueled electrical generation plant, the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.

But he also saw much more. “I see an incredible cooperative effort,” said Siderewicz, president and CEO of Clean Energy Future LLC. “It’s one thing to have an incredible dream and vision, but it literally takes hundreds of people pulling in the same direction to make it happen.”

Siderewicz made his remarks shortly after he and others kicked off the project off during its official groundbreaking. For the last 2½ years, the company has worked with officials in this village, the cities of Niles and Warren, landowners, international financiers, local development officials and the state of Ohio to make the project happen.

The Lordstown Energy Center is slated to begin operations in the summer of 2018. It will be a 940-megawatt natural-gas-fired combined cycle plant – enough to supply 800,000 houses with electric power, said John Gibson, senior vice president and head of sales for North America at Siemens Power and Gas Division.

“This is the most efficient power plant in the world,” Gibson says. “You’re getting a glimpse of the future of power generation in the United States.”

Siemens will manufacture the heart of the plant – two natural gas turbines as well as its steam turbine – and also serve as the lead for all site activity, Gibson told a large audience during the ceremony. The equipment will be manufactured at a Siemens’ plant in Charlotte, N.C.

“There aren’t too many $1 billion deals,” he emphasized. “Siemens couldn’t be more proud.”

The Lordstown Energy Center will be the sixth plant in the United States to employ the company’s Flex-Plant technology, Gibson said. “We’re also an investor in the project, so you can be assured we have mutual interest in making this a success.”

Siemens technicians living in the region will provide support and service to the plant once it is operational, Gibson said, and noted that up to 400 tradesmen at one time could be expected to be working on site. About 25 to 30 will be employed full-time once the plant is in operation.

LECRendering925

David Kirkwood, managing director of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, the majority investor in the project, said his group looks for the best opportunities in the industry, and the Lordstown project stuck out.

“This is really a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “We look forward to delivering this world-class facility to everyone here. We will be here for the long term.”

Initially, Boston-based Clean Energy identified 14 potential sites for the new energy center, Siderewicz said. An analysis conducted by Dominion East Ohio gas in the summer of 2013 demonstrated that Lordstown provided the best opportunity.

The location is proximate to major energy transmission lines and a plentiful supply of natural gas via the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. And, Siderewicz said, there are ample water resources that the project could rely on.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, described the new energy plant as an example of the Mahoning Valley’s continuing efforts of working together to diversify its economy.

“That’s the key to economic progress,” he said. “This is the real model.”

Siderewicz thanked all of the stakeholders involved, including the four major financial backers: Bank of America, Paris-based Credit Agricole, China-based ICBC and London-based Investec.

Siderewicz singled out Mayor Arno Hill and Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber President and CEO Tom Humphries, who he said helped the project move forward when it faced roadblocks.

Barry Brits, general manager for the Lordstown Energy Center, said foundation work is underway and will continue toward the end of the year. “You’ll start seeing equipment coming on to the site early next year. The team has been planning this a long time, so the schedule is very carefully planned and laid out.”

Mayor Hill first learned of the project in January 2014, he recalled, and remained optimistic despite several challenges. “I thought it would be something that was an asset to the community,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Pictured: Holding shovels are Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future, which is developing the Lordstown Energy Center, and David Kirkwood, an executive with Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, an equity investor.

Also pictured: Rendering of the Lordstown Energy Center.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.