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The Suburbanite
  • $800 million power plant planned for Carroll County

  • A Boston-based company announced plans Tuesday to build a natural gas-fired power plant near the village that will generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

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  • Carroll County came a step closer to getting a natural-gas-burning power plant Tuesday, a project officials hope will energize the local economy.
    Advanced Power North America went public with plans for its $800 million Carroll County Energy project. If constructed, the power plant would generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.
    It also would create jobs, increase tax revenue and — along with another proposed power plant — spur a $16 million expansion of water and sewer service in the county, the lack of which has stifled the county’s ability to attract new businesses.
    Advanced Power plans to build the 700-megawatt Carroll County Energy project on a 77-acre site about 2.5 miles north of the village on state Route 9.
    “At this point, we’re convinced we’re at the right project site,” said Jonathan W. Winslow, director of development for the Boston-based company.
    The power plant still needs approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board, a process that can last as long as a year. Construction would take an additional three years, Winslow said.
    NOT SHALE GAS
    Carroll County has more Utica Shale gas and oil wells than any other part of Ohio, but that isn’t driving the project, Winslow said.
    Of more importance is that utility companies plan to close 5,800 megawatts worth of coal-fired power plants in Ohio by 2015, he said. The Route 9 location also offers easy access to AEP transmission lines, and its fuel source will be the nearby interstate Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
    Electricity from the power plant will feed into the power grid, where it can be purchased by various suppliers on the wholesale market.
    “As you can imagine, the opportunity for a project like this does not come around every day,” Winslow said. “These are large capital investments. There are few companies out there that do what we do.”
    COMBINED-CYCLE PLANT
    The plant will have a 15-acre footprint and be a half-mile to the east of Route 9 on what is now the Jenkins Farm.
    Construction could start by the end of 2014, and would involve up to 500 workers. The plant would employ 30 full-time workers once it is completed, Winslow said.
    The Carroll County Energy project will use General Electric’s combined-cycle technology to make electricity.
    In a combined-cycle system, a mix of natural gas and air is burned in a turbine, similar to what happens in a jet engine. The turbine spins and drives a generator. Then the hot exhaust gases are used to heat water to make steam that powers a second generator.
    “Combined cycles are the most efficient way to generate electricity, and natural gas is the cleanest fuel that you can utilize to generate electricity,” Winslow said.
    The project will emit half the carbon dioxide and 90 percent less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide than a conventional coal-fired power plant, according to the company.
    Page 2 of 2 - Because the plant will be air cooled, it will use at most 350,000 gallons of water a day, rather than the 6 million gallons used daily by a water-cooled system, Winslow said.
    It’s also quiet. Before agreeing to the project, farm owners Larry Jenkins and his father, Ballard, toured a similar power plant.
    The facility had a quiet, fan-like sound that was easily drowned out by the rumble of a passing semi-truck, Jenkins said.
    GETTING THE WATER
    The Carroll County Energy project is one of two gas-fired power plants being planned. Midwest Energy has an option on 50 acres in the Commerce Park on Route 9 the north of Advanced Power’s site.
    To supply water for both projects, the county needs to connect the water and sewer systems in Malvern and Carrollton along a northern corridor, said County Commissioner Jeffrey Ohler.
    With the power plants as anchor tenants, the county hopes to pay for the $16 million expansion and attract other commercial and residential developments, Ohler said.
    “We’re extremely excited,” he said. “Cross your fingers, hope everything works out for Carroll County.”
    But some have concerns about the environmental impact.
    Paul Feezel, the chairman of Carroll Concerned Citizens, said a power plant would be a new source of air pollution in the county. It also would increase industrialization of the rural community and draw on water supplies in an region where shale drillers are already using millions of gallons of water to hydraulically fracture, or frack, each well they drill.
    Winslow said Carroll County Energy will open a community office in a few months to answer questions about the project, and plans to release an economic impact study by the end of July.
    “The people that we’ve talked to in the community to date have been extraordinarily supportive of the project,” he said. “We’re at the point now where we need to continue to do the outreach.”
    ADVANCED POWER
    Advanced Power North America is a subsidiary of Advanced Power AG, a privately held Swiss company.
    The Carroll County Energy project is the third power plant Advanced Power is actively developing in the United States. The other two are in Dover, N.Y., and Brockton, Mass. Both have received the necessary permits.
    Five other plants are in development in central and western Europe. Advanced Power already has built power plants in Slovakia and Belgium.
    QUICK FACTS
    • $800 million
    • 700 megawatts (enough electricity for 700,000 homes)
    •  500 jobs during construction, 30 when complete
    • The Carroll County Energy project is the third power plant Advanced Power is actively developing in the United States. The other two are in Dover, N.Y., and Brockton, Mass. Both have received the necessary permits.