Work to get ready for a large power plant in Columbiana County is already beginning.
There are large trucks preparing Hibbetts Mill Road for one of the largest projects ever in Yellow Creek Township. It’ll be located about three miles from Wellsville.
“It’s a $1.3 billion project,” trustee Kenny Biacco said.
It’s South Field Energy’s second major project in Ohio and third major project in the U.S.
The plant will use highly flexible gas turbine technology, making it one of the most efficient in the country. According to South Field Energy, it will be fueled by clean natural gas and have the ability to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) if gas is not available.
Biacco said the project took the trustees by surprise.
“When they first started, they were talking 500 construction jobs for three years. When they sent me this paperwork, they upped it to a thousand.”
After it’s built, about 40 people will be employed there to keep the power flowing around the clock.
“The plant will service one million residents,” Biacco said.
As part of a tax abatement deal, South Field Energy already paid Yellow Creek $1.6 million.
The township’s annual budget is less than half a million dollars. Trustees said the influx of cash will be used to work on the roads.
Trustee Glenn McKenzie worked in the road department for decades.
“About half of our roads are blacktop or some kind of chip and seal, asphalt. The rest of them are dirt,” McKenzie said. “We gotta get some sort of base on them so we’ve been trying to go with blacktop. We’ve been faced with the rise of blacktop. We haven’t been able to keep up with them.”
Community members we talked to said they welcome the project. But some, including the owner of the Valley Drive-In, were worried it might be too good to be true.
“There’s been so many other companies that said they were going to come in but they never had, so you just waited,” owner Judy Duck said.
Duck and her family have served up burgers and ice cream on Route 39 for nearly 30 years. She looks forward to the new customers the plant will bring.
“It will be positive, I really do believe that,” she said.