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Duke granted final permit

The state granted final permits Thursday to Duke Energy North America, prompting the company to begin 20 months of building at its Hamilton Township power plant site.

Friday, December 14, 2001

The state granted final permits Thursday to Duke Energy North America, prompting the company to begin 20 months of building at its Hamilton Township power plant site.

"Yesterday, we officially received our final air permit and water discharge permit from the Ohio EPA," project development director Chuck Claunch said this morning.

Although Duke expects a groundbreaking ceremony in January, full construction will start as soon as possible, Claunch said.

The $600 million 1,240-megawatt power plant project will use natural gas to make electricity. By the summer of 2003, the company expects to be making electricity.

Just one month ago, Duke closed its land lease deal with Dow Chemical and construction crews began digging sediment ponds and other preparation on the site just north of Hanging Rock.

Now, full construction means as many as 450 trade jobs on average; a plant manager to be hired halfway through construction; and about 30 permanent jobs, Claunch said.

"It’s probably the biggest thing to hit Lawrence County well, I don’t know if anything this big has come to Lawrence County," said Jason Stephens, who worked this summer on a tax break agreement with Duke.

It’s a totally new and different industry, which will likely give the Ironton-Hanging Rock area the reputation for producing electricity instead of iron, Stephens said.

The construction jobs, already lauded by the local trades council as a saving grace in a worsening economy, will fuel other jobs; and the plant should act as an attraction for even more new industry, he said.

"Think of how many families that will feed in the entire Tri-State."

Duke’s director of construction, Bill Lindsay, has already moved to the area and will oversee construction, for which Duke has "committed to 100 percent union," Claunch said.

Duke Energy North America has hired its partner company, Duke/Fluor Daniel, which engineers and builds power plants around the world, on an engineering, procurement and construction contract to provide turnkey plant in June 2003. he said.

Kokosing, an Ohio company, already working, is in charge of site preparation.

Already, some area rental property owners have said they are scrambling to fill orders for some specialty workers. Duke also has begun some purchasing in the area, officials said.

Also, hundreds of construction jobs coming to Hamilton Township – not only from Duke’s project, but also Calpine Inc.’s similar multi-million dollar power plant – should boost local spending, which means a boost in needed sales tax revenue, county auditor Ray Dutey has said.

And, while the company has been granted a break from property taxes, it will still make a payment to county governments, including almost $4 million to Rock Hill Schools, which will pay off the district’s construction bonds.