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State reviewing documents of Calpine project

Hearings on Calpine Corporation’s planned 1,100-megawatt power plant in Hamilton Township will take place in two months’ time, state regulatory leaders said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Hearings on Calpine Corporation’s planned 1,100-megawatt power plant in Hamilton Township will take place in two months’ time, state regulatory leaders said.

The hearings are part of the final steps before the plant’s construction – which would bring 300 to 400 construction jobs to the county and at least 30 full-time jobs afterward.

The San Jose, Calif., based Calpine partnered with CME North American Merchant Energy in building natural-gas fired power generating project, with a proposed facility on 170 acres near County Road 1A, old U.S. 52.

A certificate to construct and operate the plant is pending before the Ohio Power Siting Board, which regulates such projects.

Copies of Calpine’s application to the board are available for public inspection at the library, board officials said.

Among items the Power Siting Board will consider are basis of need, environmental impact, public interest and other criteria. Part of the requirements to get a certificate are public hearings.

The board has scheduled a public (non-adjudicatory) hearing for Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of Rock Hill Elementary No. 4 in Hanging Rock.

The board’s formal (adjudicatory) hearing will take place a few days later, Nov. 15, at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room 11-F at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, 180 East Broad St., Columbus.

Calpine held a similar meeting with residents in February, where they found favor for the project.

More state evaluations must follow, but once plans are given the nod by state authorities, they will be distributed to the public and the company will continue moving forward, project development manager George Bacon said this summer.

Calpine remains in the engineering and design phase, with air and other permits applied for in May, Bacon said.

Calpine Corporation has requested tax incentive documents from county officials, another major step toward the company’s construction of natural gas fired power plant near Hanging Rock.

Commissioners said the company would likely begin negotiations soon, in a format similar to recently-negotiated tax breaks for Duke Energy, which is also plans a power plant.

Duke says it must wait on air and other state permits, as well as its own internal management approvals before breaking ground this winter.

Calpine officials said their company has already made its decision – the project will move forward once approved, project development manager George Bacon said this summer.

The company found no issues that would prevent the project from going ahead but crews won’t be able to break ground until all permits are granted, Bacon said, adding that would take until December at the earliest.

At a February community meeting, Calpine detailed plans of its Lawrence Energy Center.

The facility will generate electricity using natural gas. Calpine representatives said the plant could generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 800,000 homes throughout the region.

Company representatives said $510 million of capital investment money will be placed in the plant. The company also estimates the creation of 350 to 400 union construction jobs to build the plant in the first phase of development. The construction phase is projected to take two years to complete.

The company hopes to have more meetings with the community to ensure the move to the area will go smoothly and the community’s needs are met.

The company has posted a website for the local project that explains the operations of the facility. The site is located at: http://www.lawrence-energy.com.

Meanwhile, county officials have lauded both power plant projects, saying they will bring much needed jobs and revenue into the county at a time when the economy has slumped.