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Power Siting Board OKs Duke project

Duke Energy’s one step closer to building its multi-million power plant – winning Ohio Power Siting Board approval Monday – and that means the local economy’s one step closer to turnaround, county officials say.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Duke Energy’s one step closer to building its multi-million power plant – winning Ohio Power Siting Board approval Monday – and that means the local economy’s one step closer to turnaround, county officials say.

"They are that much closer to construction," said commissioner Jason Stephens, who’s attended negotiation sessions with Duke and area taxing entities.

When Stephens received faxed notice of the power company’s regulatory nod, some of his first thoughts were about the construction and the dollars that will trickle down into the county from the resulting jobs and contracts, he said.

Local tradesmen and hundreds of other workers will converge on Lawrence County not for just a few months, but for almost two years during the plant’s construction, Stephens said.

"For example, if you’re an insurance agent, you’ll sell more insurance grocers will sell more groceries; those workers might buy a new car, a new set of tires, more gas to drive back and forth to work ," he said. "It will be such a boom."

A recently settled tax break contract set the stage for the Power Siting Board’s regulatory review of Duke’s 1,240-megawatt natural gas fired electricity generating plant in Hamilton Township.

The 11-member board, which reviews applications for large electric and natural gas facilities in Ohio, includes representatives of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the state departments of EPA, Development, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Health, the Ohio General Assembly and the public.

Board members and their, the chairman of the PUCo, issued approval to Duke Energy during a Monday meeting.

"It’s not the final step in the process, but it’s a big step," Stephens said.

Company officials are now waiting only the final state regulatory approvals, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft air permit.

Commissioners, Duke representatives and other local agencies have said that there are no scientific reasons the permit won’t go forward.

Once permits are gained, Duke has said it must win internal management approval, then construction – which could bring as many as 300 to 400 jobs – can commence.

The plant, planned adjacent to County Road 1A, will use natural gas fired boilers to make turn steam turbines. The resulting electricity will be distributed through American Electric Power’s 765-kilovolt Hanging Rock substation.