Economic Development

New Power Plants Invest $25B in Appalachian Basin

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new report issued by Energy In Depth shows that natural gas-powered energy plants either in operation or in various stages of development have attracted more than $25 billion worth of new investment to the Appalachian Basin.

The report comes on the heels of an announcement Tuesday that the Lordstown Energy Center, a $1 billion, 940-megawatt combined cycle-energy plant, is now operational and producing electrical power.

According to Energy In Depth, 29 new power plants with a capacity of 475-megawatts or greater are in operation, under construction, or in the various stages of the permitting process in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

When operating at full capacity, the 29 plants would generate a combined 26,086 megawatts of power. Total construction jobs would amount to 17,800, the industry group reports.  DOWNLOAD CHART

Ten plants are either in operation or slated for Ohio, 16 are in operation or in various stages of development in Pennsylvania, and three are in the works in West Virginia, the advocacy group reports.

Among the plants under construction in Pennsylvania is the Hickory Run Energy Center in Lawrence County, Pa., which represents an $863 million investment.

In addition to the Lordstown plant, in Ohio the $889 million Carroll County Energy plant is operating, the South Field Energy plant in Columbiana County, a $1.3 billion investment, is scheduled to begin construction soon. And permits have been issued for the Trumbull Energy Center, also in Lordstown, a $865 million project that remains in limbo pending resolution of a legal dispute.

The plants are being constructed using local labor, notes Jackie Stewart, who writes a blog for Energy in Depth. Stewart quotes Don Crane, former president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council, who described the labor agreement that employed the workers who built the Lordstown Energy Center as “the best labor agreement that anyone has ever seen on either side of the table in the oil and gas industry. It will be a model going forward that gets used often.”

Moreover, Stewart writes, many of the new power plants are being built on the sites of previous power plants or other industrial facilities.

“These natural gas-fired power plant investments are increasingly important given the recent announcements of several coal and nuclear facilities that will be closing in the region over the next few years,” Stewart reports. “Coal currently represents 45% of Ohio’s electric mix and 93% of West Virginia’s, while nuclear energy is the leading fuel for electricity generation in Pennsylvania at 39%.”

In Pennsylvania, the 16 plants will add another 15,000 megawatts of new electrical capacity to the power grid and generate an estimated investment of $14 billion. The investment has also led to the creation of more than 8,000 construction jobs.

Ohio’s 10 new plants represent more than 9,000 megawatts of power and an estimated $9 billion worth of investment, the report found. The projects have the prospect of creating about 7,200 jobs during the construction phase.

Pictured at top: Aerial view of the Lordstown Energy Plant.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.