Carroll County Betting On Gas

CARROLLTON – Carroll County Commissioner Jeffrey Ohler says the $800 million natural gas electric generation plant planned for a 77-acre site north of the village is going to bring new jobs, tax revenue and discretionary income to the community.

But before any of that can happen, he said the commission is going to have to figure out how to cover the up-front costs of water and sewer extensions to the property – a problem he said they don’t really mind tackling, given the upside for the county and its residents.

“It’s really not a downside, but it’s one of things we’ll have to work on in conjunction with this project,” Ohler said. “We need to get water and sewer out to the facility, which will be located two or three miles outside Carrollton. We’re working on that now, we’re in the process of collaborating with the village to provide water and sewer. And from a county standpoint, we have to figure out how to pay for it (over the short-term). We know long-term it will be supported.”

Carroll County Energy announced Tuesday it plans to build a 700 megawatt plant capable of powering 700,000 homes on the property, part of a 233-acre farm roughly a half-mile east of state Route 9 and 2.5 miles north of Carrollton. The site is adjacent to Carroll County Community Improvement Corp. land designated for industrial and commercial development.

The company says the project will create 25 to 30 good-paying, full-time jobs as well as up to 500 construction jobs over a two- to three-year period.

The generating equipment will be powered strictly by natural gas.

“With Ohio’s electricity needs continuing to grow and some 5,800 megawatts of conventional coal-fired power plants scheduled for retirement by the end of 2015 in Ohio, Carroll County Energy will help fill our generation needs with clean American natural gas,” project manager Jonathan Winslow said in a press release announcing the venture. “This facility can be aptly described as ‘efficient generation from a small footprint.'”

According to Carroll County Energy officials, the plant will use state-of-the-art natural gas and steam turbine technology developed by GE Energy in a configuration referred to as “combined cycle,” which maximizes energy efficiency by allowing the plant to capture waste heat to generate additional electricity. It will produce 50 percent of the carbon dioxide and less than 10 percent of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide that a conventional coal-fired power plant would produce to generate the same electricity, and air-cooled condensers will minimize water consumption and wastewater discharge.

Winslow said they’re in the process of completing the required environmental studies and obtaining permits. He said they’ll schedule several open houses in the coming months to answer questions people in the community might have.

“There are still a lot of things we need to do,” Ohler said. “But, fortunately, we have the time to do them. It’s going to take them a long time to build the facility and it’s going to take us time to get the infrastructure to them. It’s going to take collaboration between the village and county. … We’ve got one shot at this and we’ve got to deliver; not everybody gets the opportunity to have this type of facility in their county.”

Ohler said the plant “certainly would be a great boost” to a budget-conscious school system.

“If you have a company putting up a major facility, that’s going to drive real estate taxes up,” he said. “They haven’t had a school levy passed in 27 years … so it’s going to provide them with more income, that additional revenue will certainly pay huge dividends to the school. We can’t speculate on an amount, but we hope it will be substantial.”

He figures Carroll County was the logical site choice, given that they’re “at the epicenter of the oil and gas business in Ohio,” so major gas collection and electric transmission lines are already in place.

“They say one job created in a community typically generates another six or seven times that in spinoff, by people spending money,” Ohler said. “That’s exciting.”