Advanced Power Plant Energizes Columbiana County

WELLSVILLE, Ohio – The impact of Advanced Power’s $1.3 billion South Field Energy combined-cycle electrical plant is surging throughout this region of Columbiana County.

The plant – placed into commission Oct. 13 – not only provides enough energy to power to more than one million homes, it’s also a driver for community development across the region.

The facility has been “a great boost” for the Buckeye Water District and its customers, according to district manager Al DeAngelis. 

“Buckeye Water District was an integral part of bringing South Field Energy here,” DeAngelis said. The BWD sold the company 45 acres near its water plant on state Route 45 for the facility. 

“By this power plant coming in, it stabilized our water rates for a long time with the revenue coming in, and as time goes on, things go up (in cost) but this plant will help us maintain financial stability so we don’t have to go back to our customers.”

In addition, revenue from the minimum monthly water usage by the South Field Energy plant provides BWD additional capital for its projects, according to DeAngelis.

“This was a big thing for us. It took a lot of work people don’t see behind the scenes. People talk about the jobs and benefits it brought to the county and the school district, and we were part of it,” he noted.

Wellsville Local School District Superintendent Richard Bereschik said the South Field Energy plant has already been a financial boon for the district and promises to be so in the future. 

Officials broke ground on the project on May 15, 2019, and it’s estimated more than 1,000 tradesmen worked on the project during its construction phase. 

Over that three-year period, the district realized an initial payment from the company of $700,000 the first year, followed by $500,000 each of the next two years.

That $1.7 million enabled the district to implement safety measures officials had been eyeing, including installation of an alarm system and safety film on school building windows that can withstand explosions as well as placement of full-time school resource officers in each of the district’s three buildings. 

The district was also able to update major curriculum areas, with Bereschik saying, “We were struggling (financially) with that every year, trying to update it.”

Revenue from the project also helped the district build a four-lane track and install a turf football field. 

Within two years of the plant starting operations, beginning in fiscal year 2023, the district stands to receive $1.5 million annually for the next 15 years or longer, which Bereschik said should ensure the district’s financial solvency for some time to come. 

“We are honored to be a part of the community and look forward to continuing our support of its economic growth and providing funding directly to local schools through our Enterprise Zone Agreement,” Advanced Power CEO Thomas Spang said in a statement. 

The plant’s construction has also given Yellow Creek Township trustees the ability to provide residents with better service and equipment, according to Chairman Kenny Biacco. The township itself realized more than $1 million up front from the company upon signing a tax abatement agreement.

That money enabled trustees to purchase new equipment and better maintain the 38 miles of township roadways.  Once the plant is operational, Biacco said the township would realize another $250,000 annually over the next 12-14 years.

He said some residents also benefited by selling or leasing the company property for the plant’s site. A small convenient store just up the road from the plant was often packed with construction workers, he said.

“It’s helped the economy a lot,” according to Biacco. “It’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to Yellow Creek Township.”

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.