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Calpine gets EPA#039;s initial approval

HANGING ROCK-- The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued draft air and water permits to the Lawrence Energy Center, Calpine Corporation's proposed electric power plant in Hanging Rock.

OEPA Southeast District Representative Bob Little said that agency issued the temporary, or draft National Pollution

Discharge Elimination System permit Thursday.

This permit gives initial approval to the facility's plans for effluent discharge from the power plant into the Ohio River.

"There will be a 30 day waiting period during which the OEPA will accept comments about the permit," Little said. "After this time a permit may be issued with an effective date. It is issued for a maximum of five years and can be renewed at five year intervals after that."

In addition the OEPA has issued a draft air permit for

the facility. Portsmouth Local Air Agency Permit Supervisor Cindy Charles said the permit was issued Sept. 24.

The process for this permit is the same as for the draft permit, including the 30-day comment period, after which time the agency may issue a permit.

These draft permits are two more hurdles that must be navigated before the plant becomes reality.

George Bacon, Director, Project Development for Calpine Corp., said they are also waiting on a permit for construction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We believe that permit is also forthcoming," Bacon said.

Bacon said because of the downturn in the national economy and the reduced demand for electric power, the targeted date to begin construction of the facility has been pushed back to the spring of 2004, with an estimated start-up date of 2006.

Still, the draft permits were hailed as good news by local leaders.

"Calpine is moving forward and that's good," Lawrence County Commission President Jason Stephens said. "It's a real positive thing for our community."

The San Jose, Calif.-based Calpine Corporation, which is partnered with CME North American Merchant Energy, plans to build 1,100-megawatt power plant in Hamilton Township. The plant will bring 300 to 400 construction jobs to the county and at least 30 full-time jobs afterward.

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