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Boston developer planning two new natural-gas fired plants in Ohio

January 4, 2017

Two new gas-fired power plants are planned for Ohio, marking at least 10 plants that are in some stage of development in the state.

The plants, combined totaling just under 2,000 megawatts, have not been formally announced: A 940-megawatt plant in Lordstown, in Trumbull County near Youngstown, and a 960-megawatt plant in Oregon, in Lucas County near Toledo.

Both will be next-door neighbors of already-disclosed similarly sized plants in Lordstown and Oregon. Developers last week notified Ohio regulators of plans for the second Lordstown plant, and plan to do the same in the coming weeks for the Toledo-area plant.

Boston-based Clean Energy Future is developing the four plants, and could build more in Ohio, says company President Bill Siderewicz.

The 10 plants are in various stages of development, ranging from early notification filings with regulators to in-construction, according to a Columbus Business First analysis. Last week two companies filed notice to build a 1,650-megawatt plant in Guernsey County.

Where's this buildup coming from?

Natural gas power plants are dotting Ohio to replace closing coal-fired plants and compete against those that remain.

Ohio electric utilities have shuttered thousands of megawatts of Ohio-based coal generation in recent years. The process was advanced by environmental regulations on emissions but inevitable as the plants aged out and could not compete as well against newer plants using gas derived from shale rock, including the Utica in Ohio and the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


In 2005, coal made up 71 percent of Columbus-based American Electric Power Company Inc.'s (NYSE:AEP) generation; this year, it expects that number to fall to 47 percent. Gas is slated to increase to 27 percent from 20 percent in the same time frame for AEP.


Siderewicz says it’s that much cheaper to operate gas-fired plants compared to coal. “If they were really close you wouldn’t see this stampede to Ohio,” he said, comparing it to selling hamburgers for $5 while competitors sell them for $11.

“He’s not going to get as much business. It’s as simple as that.”

Two plants instead of one

About half of the 10 plants are clustered in the northeastern part of the state, home to populous areas including Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo. There are not a lot of power plants there compared to the amount of people who live there.

“That just screams out to anyone in our business, ‘Come over here, it’s a mismatch’,” Siderewicz said.

Clean Energy Future is building twin plants instead of one larger plant because it’s easier to raise funds. The Lordstown plants each are about $900 million, and raising that amount of capital is easier than raising almost $2 billion at once, Siderewicz said. The steeper the price, the more difficult to raise money.

Plus, the “economic sweet spot” are plants whose power capacity range between 900 megawatts and 1,000 megawatts.

“It’s better to have two Priuses that are really efficient versus trying to make something bigger than it needs to be,” he said.

Here's an update on Clean Energy Future's proposed Ohio power plants.

Location: Lordstown, Trumbull County
How much power: 940 megawatts
Current status: Under construction, should start operations next May.
Location: Lordstown, Trumbull County (neighboring plant)
How much power: 940 megawatts
Current status: Filed pre-application with Ohio regulators. Plans to begin construction in early 2018, start operations in mid-2020.
Location: Oregon, Lucas County
How much power: 960 megawatts
Current status: Under construction
Location: Oregon, Lucas County (neighboring plant)
How much power: 960 megawatts
Current status: Pre-application expected to be filed to regulators early this year.

Columbus Business First