CARROLLTON, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the past several years, Carroll County has seen something of an economic revitalization thanks to being the busiest in Ohio for shale oil and gas exploration.
“It looks like hopefully we have turned that corner from the depths of the recession,” Amy Rutledge of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce said.
But the latest development apparently has a lot more to do with location. Land is already being cleared just north of Carrollton for what could be a nearly $1 billion gas-fired electricity plant.
Carroll County Commissioners said they were first approached several years ago.
“Carroll County is a great county. But why? Why is this a good place?,” Commissioner Jeffrey Ohler said.
He said executives with the Swiss firm Advanced Power AG wanted the 77-acre spot off state Route 9 to be near both a major gas pipeline and electric transmission lines, adding proximity to gas drilling has little to do with it.
“A lot of people think that it does, but in actuality, it does not. It is just because we have two things that they need and we are fortunate that we have those,” Ohler said.
Construction is expected to begin soon, employing about 700 to build the facility and eventually 20 to 30 to operate it. It will put out enough electricity to power 750,000 homes.The entire county has only about 30,000. But officials believe the timing will be significant because of tougher regulations now forcing coal-fired power plants to close.
“The economics of the coal-fired plants going off line and still need to be some type of process to produce that electricity,” Ohler said.
Business leaders said they are hopeful this new plant will be just the first of its kind.
“I think you are going to start seeing more natural gas powered plants coming along, especially in eastern Ohio where there is going to be a good source of natural gas,” Rutledge said.
“In Ohio alone, there is going to be four or five coal-fired power plants that are going to be taken off the market so there is going to have to b be some source of generation that is going to have to take place,” Ohler said.
The new facility should be on line in late 2017.