Thanks to the Utica Shale formation’s staggering production and associated infrastructure needs, Ohio is experiencing an enormous influx of investment. Last year, EID investigated Ohio’s newly announced pipeline and natural gas-fired power plants, and found that billions were slated to come into the state from these projects. The natural gas-fired power plants, either currently under construction or planned, will provide over $6 billion and more than 4,000 jobs to Ohioans, all while generating enough power to fuel up to 5.85 million homes. With approximately 4.5 million homes statewide, that means that natural gas plants will literally now generate enough natural gas that they could fuel the entire state of Ohio. Here’s a look at the newly announced projects along with those currently under construction.
|Ohio Natural Gas Power Plants|
|Advanced Power Services||Carroll County Energy||$900 million||700||750,000||730||Under Construction|
|South Field Energy LLC||Columbiana County Energy||$1.1 billion||1,100||900,000||900||Pending|
|Oregon Clean Energy LLC||Oregon Clean Energy||$860 million||869||500,000||475||Under Construction|
|NTE Energy||Middletown Energy Center||$600 million||475||600,000||430||Under Construction|
|Rolling Hills||Rolling Hills Generating Station||$700 million||1,414||1,400,000||400||Completed|
|Clean Energy Future Lordstown||Lordstown Energy Center||$850 million||800||700,000||700||Under Construction|
|Apex Power Group LLC||Guernsey Power Station||$1 billion||1,100||1,000,000||525||Pending|
|$6 billion||6,458||5.85 million||4,160|
According to the 2015 U.S. Census, Ohio has a population of just over 11.6 million statewide, an average of 2.58 people per household, and 4.5 million homes statewide. With the recent announcement of the Guernsey Power Station, our analysis shows that projects currently under construction and those about to break ground will in fact generate enough natural gas that they could power the entire state of Ohio, all while providing the critical construction jobs our state so desperately needs.
These jobs are great jobs for Ohio. In fact, just this week construction started at the Clean Energy Future Lordstown Power Plant in northeast Ohio. Don Crane, President of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council, said,
“This is touted as the best labor agreement that anyone has ever seen on either side of the table in the oil and gas industry. It will be a model going forward that gets used often.”
Mr. Crane is correct, in fact every one of the plants currently under construction are using local labor and more specifically the building and construction trades, debunking a long-standing talking point used by environmental activist groups: that the oil and natural gas industry does not hire local. In fact, the General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) recently spoke out in support of shale development saying,
“Natural gas is the most viable … and economical solution to meet future electricity needs and clean energy goals.”
So what does this mean for local communities?
Well, the $850 million Lordstown plant which started construction this week, means 700 jobs for local workers. A reality that has been described by Arno Hill, mayor of Lordstown, as a “dream come true.” This is not a surprising statement, especially given the fact that the company will pay the local school district $20.25 million, starting with $500,000 next week. The plant will spur economic growth in the Youngstown region that is estimated in the range of $30 billion, according to the Youngstown Regional Chamber. What’s more is that there are already talks of a second plant to come!
The same thing was true for the Carroll County Energy plant, which is currently under construction. Again, a $900 million project that is currently employing 700 local workers, using 100 percent union labor, and stimulating the regional local economy in a host of different ways, including a pay out to the local school district to the tune of $1.3 million year for 30 years (that’s a total of $39 million to Carroll County local schools.) What’s more is practically as soon as they broke ground in Carroll County, the company announced an even larger plant was slated for eastern Ohio.
It’s likely that the good news will continue as natural gas is expected to become the most widely used fuel for electricity generation in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) short-term market forecast released this week. As EIA explains, natural gas will provide 33 percent of generation in 2016, while coal’s share will likely fall to 32 percent. Natural gas has been the number one source on a monthly basis previously, but this would be the first time in modern history that natural gas has overtaken coal on an annual basis.
From EIA’s outlook:
“EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) is now forecasting that 2016 will be the first year that natural gas-fired generation exceeds coal generation in the United States on an annual basis. Natural gas generation first surpassed coal generation on a monthly basis in April 2015, and the generation shares for coal and natural gas were nearly identical in 2015, each providing about one-third of all electricity generation.”
While the Buckeye State will likely still rely on a diverse array of resources to keep the lights on, it is still great news that within the next few years, locally-produced natural gas could power all of Ohio’s households if need be. None of this could be achieved without the hard work of local men and women who are currently building these plants and therefore ensuring that families across the state will be able to keep their lights on for years to come.