Second Power Plant for Lordstown Still in Doubt

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The Lordstown Village Board of Public Affairs voted to table a resolution Tuesday evening that officials say is vital to building a $1.1 billion combined-cycle power plant here.

The board voted 2-1 to delay action for two weeks on a service agreement that calls for the city of Warren to provide water directly to the proposed Trumbull Energy Center.

However, project developer Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future LLC, told the board in two weeks there might not be an agreement to vote on.

“If there’s no decision on this water contract, there is no Trumbull project,” he said. “To the extent we wait another two weeks, I have no guarantee there’ll be a project for you to vote for.”

The board agreed to meet on July 5 to consider the resolution.

Members Chris Peterson and Mike Sullivan voted to table the measure; member Kevin Campbell voted against tabling the issue and urged a vote on the matter.

Peterson and Sullivan said they opted to table the resolution in order to get a second opinion on the agreement. They have questioned as to whether the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District would be a more appropriate partner to provide water to the project.

Siderewicz said that negotiations are underway with the project’s lead banks to conclude financing for the power plant, which he’s targeted to break ground by the end of July. “There’s no time for putting out an RFP to a consulting firm or a law firm to look at this,” he said. “We’re at that point.”

In mid-May, Siderewicz said made a presentation to the village and board that emphasized that the project was in its final stages of financing. The banks and investors, he added, had performed their due diligence based on the Warren water agreement.

“If we were to stop that process right now and create a new economic scenario with MVSD, we would derail the project immediately,” Siderewicz said.

Plus, the proposed energy plant has a permit to discharge into Mud Creek based on the chemical composition of Warren’s water. “For us to go and change it at this hour would take a couple of months,” he said.

The village would lose $85 million in taxes and fees over the first 20 years should the deal fall through, Siderewicz said. The Board of Public Affairs would lose $11 million. The project would also provide work for hundreds of contractors and tradesmen during the construction phase.

Siderewicz and Clean Energy helped to develop the Lordstown Energy Center, a combined-cycle power plant on Henn Parkway just off state Route 45. The second plant would be constructed on land next to the first operation.

Attorney Paul Dutton, the village counsel, explained that the agreement before the board Tuesday was the result of months of work that included many elected officials and staff.

“This product is the result of a lot of input from a lot of people, not the result of one person dictating or Warren dictating,” Dutton said. “This agreement was created by the village and handed to the developer on Friday.”

Residents attending Tuesday’s meeting expressed concerns that using Warren water would lead to higher rates for Lordstown customers.

Resident Mark McGrail said that the public face of this project has moved too quickly and the process needs to slow down.

“It’s my understanding that this project — if handled by Lordstown water department — would prevent a possible rate increase to the village residents,” he said. “I haven’t heard one thing on how the Warren line benefits the village of Lordstown and its residents.”

MVSD, which provides the city of Niles with water, which then sells it to Lordstown, would maintain the proposed 24-inch line supplying the power plant, McGrail said.

Dutton said Warren would own, maintain and operate the water line coming into Lordstown, and the village would have zero liabilities.

Despite back-and-forth discussion on the matter, Peterson and Sullivan stayed fast on their position.

“If we’re delaying it, in my mind it’s as good as dead,” board member Campbell said. “I guess we delay and pray that this comes together.”

Siderewicz said he’s not sure whether there’s enough time to cool investors impatience between now and July 5.

“What are they going to do in those two weeks?” Siderewicz said of the board after the meeting. “What more are they going to learn? This means that the [board of public affairs] might blow up the project.”

During the meeting, village council placed the measure up for a first reading and has scheduled an emergency session next week for a second reading. It will be up for a third and final reading once the board votes in two weeks.

“If it doesn’t pass in two weeks, the project is done,” Mayor Arno Hill said.

Pictured: The Lordstown Energy Center was commissioned three years ago.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.