New Power Plant Slated for Former Ormet Site in Monroe County

Photo Provided The former Ormet plant is shown in an aerial photo from 2014.

HANNIBAL — A new natural gas-fueled power plant is being developed at the former site of Ormet Aluminum Corp. in Monroe County.

Ormet closed its facility in 2013 due to high electricity costs at the time and the inability of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to grant the rate relief the company said was needed for it to continue operating. The site was purchased by Niagara Worldwide in 2014 and is now known as the Center Port Terminal.

Plans for the new power plant were announced by Niagara and site developer Ohio River Partners Shareholders at an informational meeting held recently at Monroe Central High School in Woodsfield.

“The owners wanted kind of a soft opening. They plan to do more informational meetings in the future,” said Monroe County Commissioner Mick Schumacher. “There was some discussion about it with the commissioners in October, and (we) hadn’t heard anything until now.”

The plant will be a 485-megawatt project that will use local natural gas to generate electricity. That generation capacity is relatively small — by comparison, American Electric Power’s Cardinal Plant at Brilliant consists of three units that each generate about 600 megawatts.

Construction of the new plant is expected to begin later this year, and officials anticipate the plant will be in operation by 2020. The plant is expected to employ 300-400 people during the construction phase, and it eventually will provide 20 full-time, permanent jobs.

Eric J. Spirtas, president of Niagara Worldwide, said he expects the plant to spur economic growth in the area. He noted that his company has been talking to “different types of manufacturing companies” that may be interested in coming to the site, as well.

“This power plant coming to the site hits all the targets we need for future development of the area. The plant will attract and support any manufacturer that would need that type of power,” Spirtas said. “I have owned the facility for 30 months and have been working to eliminate age-obsolete buildings. This is a state-of-the-art power plant that will increase value and attraction to the area and provide long-term paying jobs. The presence of this plant will exponentially increase the attraction for other long-term manufacturing jobs.”

Mike Jacoby, vice president of business development for the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, said his agency was involved at the beginning of the process by helping to market the site for purchase, but it is no longer involved.

“The footprint of the new power plant will actually be very small, so we hope to continue to show others the site to continue to help find developers for it. There are 400 usable acres, and the power plant will probably take 25 acres,” Jacoby said. “The site has already had a lot of interest, and the new gas power plant will be an additional selling point for the site.”

Schumacher said the location is one of the most attractive sites for manufacturing in the state because of access to the Ohio River, rail and highways, as well as natural resources. He believes the county will benefit from the new power plant through an increase in jobs and the tax base and by the plant being “one more piece in the puzzle” of economic progress in Monroe County.

“We haven’t seen any impact like this in a while,” Schumacher said. “This is all part of the increase in the oil and gas industry in the county and, whether we like it or not, it is here to stay. It is a good thing if we can burn our own fuel at a low cost.”