Massie tours Greenup steel plant

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 15, 2022

Congressman has interest in solar farms, industry

GREENUP, Kentucky — On Wednesday morning, Congressman Thomas Massie made a visit to the Steel Ventures, Inc. plant in Greenup, Kentucky, to learn more of what they do at the factory.

The plant gets products from its steel plant in Huntington, West Virginia, or Columbiana City, Indiana, and runs them through a hot dip galvanizing pit. A large overhead conveyer belt takes steel beams, dips the beams in a vat of zinc solution that is heated up to 850 degrees for 30 minutes and then takes the beams to the factory floor for them to be put on pallets and then shipped off to customers. The galvanizing process uses a coating that bonds to the steel that prevents rust and decay for 30 years.

Email newsletter signup

“I’m excited to be here,” Massie, who is a U.S. Representative for Kentucky’s 4th District, told the crowd. “I am genuinely interested in what you do here.”

Massie was especially interested in the use of the beams in solar farms because he said he has lived off the electrical grid by using solar panels at his farm for the past 15 years.

Massie was very interested in the discussion by Tyler Avery, the assistant procurement manager for SOLV Energy, which uses the beams to hold up the solar panels at their energy farms, including one in Highland County, Ohio.

Massie talked about how solar panel pricing has come down over the years. He said an analogy he likes to use is that solar is going to do to wind power what natural gas did to plants that used to use coal.

“Fifteen years ago, when I did mine, it was about $15 a watt. Now it is about 50 cents,” he said. “I tell people it is cheaper than putting in windows.”

The discussion turned to the difficulty of putting solar farms in Kentucky with all its hills as opposed to putting a plant in areas that are flat.

“In Kentucky, flat land is precious,” Massie said.

After the presentation, the congressman toured the galvanizing facility.

The plant opened in 2017 and employs 200 people. It puts about $25 million in taxes into the local economy. Some customers use crossbeams in the production of trailers used for hauling.

The company has even galvanized beams used in SOFI Stadium which is the home field of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams football teams.