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Go-ahead for Calpine could be in January

Final word on Calpine Inc.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Final word on Calpine Inc.’s natural gas fired power plant near Hanging Rock will likely come in January, company officials said.

It will take that long for the Ohio Power Siting Board – the state agency which must give the company its regulatory go-ahead – to make its decision, said George Bacon, Calpine’s project development leader on the 1,100 megawatt project.

The Power Siting Board held a local comment hearing Nov. 13, then followed it by an official "adjudicatory" hearing in Columbus on Nov. 15.

"Both went very well," Bacon said, adding that support from the community has only been positive.

At the hearing in Columbus, the company and the siting board both submitted a joint agreed stipulation that Clapine would meet requirements to receive a site certification, meaning approval to go ahead, Bacon said.

The judge must now review the record and affirm that proper procedures are being followed by the company, he said.

"He has to make a recommendation, then it’s voted on by the board itself, and that probably won’t happen until the third week in January."

Bacon added that the delay is a matter of timing – not enough time for a review before the siting board’s December meeting – and that the board’s plans are good news.

"It’s our belief, with the Ohio Power Siting Board report being positive and the hearings in support of the plant We believe they will eventually grant the project a site certificate," he said.

Meanwhile, Calpine is continuing work on design, permitting with environmental regulators and a local tax break agreement.

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.

If Calpine receives siting board approval in January, it will become the second such project to move forward in Lawrence County.

Duke Energy has a similar natural gas fired power plant entering the construction phase now.