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Power plant progressing

Developers of a billion-dollar power plant in Hamilton Township will soon take specifics of their project to the public.

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Developers of a billion-dollar power plant in Hamilton Township will soon take specifics of their project to the public.

Since Calpine’s entry into the project in October, it has completed several surveys, collected environmental data and begun the application process with the Ohio Power Siting Board – the agency that will decide the fate of the proposed natural gas fired electricity plant, said George Bacon, project director for Calpine Inc.’s Lawrence Energy Center.

Bacon, Calpine leaders and executives with CME North American Merchant Energy – who originally proposed the plant – spoke at last week’s Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

"We need to work to protect the archeological site on the property and the application to the Power Siting Board will result in a public hearing eventually," Bacon said.

Air, water and construction permits will be needed afterward and there will be several community meetings, he said.

"There is lots of work to accomplish in the next few months It will take six to eighth months to approve the facility and we will be in the community to seek input."

Chamber members asked what would help the plant progress, expressing its importance in supplying more than 300 construction jobs and attracting future industry near Hanging Rock.

Bacon said people will likely be concerned about noise, water use from the Ohio River and other issues.

Because the plant will use gas-fired turbines to make electricity, inside a building, the noise won’t be a factor, he said.

"I think the vast majority of the community will be happy after they see the design," said Bill Siderewicz, Calpine’s vice president of business development.

Local businesses and residents can help speed along the process during community meetings and in support to agencies like the EPA, Bacon said.

Those agencies will want to know if there are people who support the project, he said.

The companies expect to issue a brochure about the project to the community in February or March. And they have invited community representatives to tour a Calpine energy plant in Auburndale, Fla.

The first phase of the project is about a year away from construction, or this fall at the earliest, if everything goes well, they said. Completion could come in 2004

In phase one, the companies will invest $510 million and create 30 to 35 full-time jobs, which could provide $525 million in direct and indirect benefits to the local economy over the next 20 years, Siderewicz said.

And, because the electricity needs of the nation are expected to increase significantly each year, their is the potential for growth, he said.