Ruling Energizes Hope for $900M Power Plant in Lordstown

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — A Trumbull County judge has ruled that the majority investors of the Lordstown Energy Center be held in contempt for defying the court’s orders and interfering with the development of a second energy plant proposed for the site.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos issued a ruling July 27 granting Clean Energy Future LLC’s motion to hold the majority owner of the Lordstown Energy Center, led by Macquarie Group, in contempt, according to court documents.

At issue is whether Clean Energy Future would build a second, $900 million combined cycle electrical generation plant — the Trumbull Energy Center — at the Lordstown Industrial Park next to the Lordstown Energy Center.

Massachusetts-based Clean Energy Future LLC led the development of the Lordstown Energy Center – an $890 million project that is expected to come online by late August or early September. Macquarie, an international investment firm, purchased 70% of the project through the entity Clean Energy Future-Lordstown, or CEFL.

Clean Energy Future states in court documents that it was understood that Macquarie and CEFL would allow a second plant to be constructed on land adjoining the Lordstown Energy Center. And, Macquarie would enjoy the right of first offer to invest in the second plant.

As such, Clean Energy Future signed an option-to-purchase agreement with Macquarie and CEFL in April 2016 that would result in the transfer of land to the Trumbull Energy Center project.

However, Macquarie then refused to sign an addendum to the agreement that would waive regulations at the industrial park and clear the way for the second plant. In November 2017, the court ordered Macquarie to immediately sign the addendum, yet the investment group did not sign until 45 day later, which the judge said showed contempt, according to documents.

Judge Kontos also found Macquarie and CEFL in contempt for demanding on Dec. 5 that Clean Energy Future pay it a total of $107 million over a period of time to compensate for money it said the Lordstown Energy Center would lose should the Trumbull Energy Center be built, according to documents.

The amount was based on a study that the court ruled was immaterial since there were no conditions attached to the purchase agreement regarding a study, court papers say.

Finally, “CEFL committed contempt by asserting 19 pretextual new issues of the option property in violation of the order in a deliberate effort interfere” with development of the second project, Kontos ruled.

The court held the measure of sanctions in abeyance pending a settlement, the ruling stated. Kontos will consider the matter of enforcing the settlement on Aug. 18, according to court records.

Clean Energy Future is suing Macquarie and CEFL for damages of more than $130 million because of the delay.

A second energy plant along Henn Parkway at the Lordstown Industrial Park would mean hundreds more jobs for tradesmen in the Mahoning Valley. And, it would result in additional money to Lordstown Village’s school system, said mayor Arno Hill.

Under a proposed agreement with the Trumbull Energy Center, the school system would receive $800,000 up front on the day the project breaks ground, and receive half of the income tax generated by the project, Hill said.

“I’m not sure what the next steps are, but I think we’re getting close to see the Trumbull Energy Center going out for financing,” he said. “This clears the path.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.