Second $1B Lordstown Power Plant in Jeopardy

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – A second $1 billion combined-cycle power plant proposed for the village is now in doubt after the Board of Public Affairs declined to act on a plan to deliver water to the site.

On Wednesday, the board failed to bring to a discussion or vote on whether the Trumbull Energy Center should use water sourced from the city of Warren. 

“Unless something changes, this is dead,” lamented Mayor Arno Hill. “We could lose a billion-dollar project. The building trades will lose, the schools will lose and Lordstown would lose.”

Bill Siderewicz, president of project developer Clean Energy Future, noted that the board’s failure to even address the issue is “truly beyond comprehension.”

Siderewicz said the project has already negotiated a proposal from Warren in which it would supply 4 million gallons per day to the site, which is just south of where Clean Energy Future developed the Lordstown Energy Center just off state Route 45. 

However, a competing plan from the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District has since emerged. This proposal calls for building a 24-inch water line from Niles to the village to serve the project and other Lordstown residents.  Under MVSD’s proposal, MVSD would sell the water to the city of Niles, and Niles would in turn sell the water to Lordstown.

But Siderewicz says that reconfiguring the project at this stage could delay ground breaking on the new power plant by between six months to a year – a timeframe that its investors aren’t willing to stomach. Ground was expected to be broken this summer.

These delays would jeopardize the project’s existing permits and contracts, he said, which could expire.

“We have investors and lenders that have done months of due diligence,” he says. “If they [MVSD] had come to us eight months ago, we could have done something. There’s not much that can be done now.”

The developer said he made it clear last week when he met in executive session with Lordstown’s Board of Public Affairs that the project would not go forward without an approval to use Warren water.

“Financing is in the final stage of negotiation,” Clean Energy Future says in a proposal presented to the board last week.  “A new water plan at this late dates would have both lenders/investors walking away from TEC.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Board President Kevin Campbell made a motion for the board to accept the Warren water proposal. There was no second from members Christopher Peterson or Michael Sullivan, so the measure failed.

MVSD Chief Engineer Mike McNinch says the water district plan makes sense because it would keep rates low and benefit users not just in Lordstown, but the entire district including Youngstown, parts of Boardman, Canfield and North Jackson.

He says MVSD already supplies Lordstown via Niles with a 24-inch line, and provides half of the water used at the Lordstown Energy Center. Warren provides the other half.

Under MVSD’s plan, Lordstown could “serve the site and existing and future customers with a redundant water supply.  By doing that, we’re also able to keep water rates low. It benefits everyone in Lordstown.”

Siderewicz said should the project fall through, it would mean the loss of $100 million in construction wages, $480,000 in annual payments to the Board of Public Affairs, and $85 million in revenue to Lordstown over the life of the project.

“It’s become a donnybrook based on misinformation, “ Siderewicz said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.