Company to build its second $1.1 billion gas-fired power plant near Wellsville in Ohio’s Utica Shale

Akron Beacon Journal

Bob Downing

Columbiana County is getting a $1.1 billion power plant that will burn natural gas to produce electricity.

The new plant is part of a growing trend as cleaner-burning natural gas replaces coal as the No. 1 fuel to produce electricity with new federal clean-air rules forcing aged and dirty coal-fired plants to close.

It will be the sixth new gas-fired power plant being built in Ohio and it is being developed because of plentiful natural gas from the Utica Shale.

The new plant is being planned and developed by the same company that is building a similar $899 million plant in Carroll County.

South Field Energy LLC on Thursday made the announcement of the new 1,100-megawatt plant.

One megawatt can power between 600 and 1,000 houses. The new plant, to be called the South Field Electric Generating Facility, could heat up to 880,000 houses.

The new plant is great news for Columbiana County, said county Commissioner Mike Halleck.

“We are very excited about the announcement of South Field Energy’s new natural gas-fired power plant,” he told the media. “Not only will it bring a boost to our economy through jobs and tax revenues, it will also directly support our local schools. This is just another example of how the oil and gas industry continues to help improve our county.”

South Field Energy is a subsidiary of Boston-based Advanced Power AG.

The project is completing environmental studies and will be applying for the needed permits, said spokesman Jonathan Winslow.

Additional information will soon be posted at

The proposed plant will be located three miles northwest of Wellsville in Yellow Creek Township.

It will be built on 20 acres within a 150-acre tract. It will require a three-mile electric line to connect with the Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. electric system.

Construction on the new plant is expected to begin in late 2017 and could take 30 months to complete. The plant could be operational by late 2019 or early 2020.

The plant would employ 25 workers and create about 550 construction jobs over three years.

Initial paperwork for the Columbiana County plant has been filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board.

The new plant will be the subject of a board-backed public meeting 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 20 at Wellsville High School, 1 Bengal Way, Wellsville.

Plants in development

Advanced Power said last July at the Carroll County ground-breaking that it was developing plans for a second gas-fired plant in Ohio.

The 750-megawatt Carroll County plant is under construction on 77 acres north of Carrollton off state Route 9. It is expected to begin production in December 2017. An estimated 700 construction jobs and 21 permanent jobs will be created.

The two plants will combine gas turbines and steam boilers, making them more efficient and cleaner than coal-fired plants.

“Ohioans face a growing gap in energy production,” Winslow said in a statement. “With facilities like this, we can begin to close that gap by using advanced technology to produce substantial, reliable power, while also minimizing our environmental footprint.”

Advanced Power has gas-fired plants under development in Massachusetts and New York state.

The new plant is among six gas-fired plants by private companies under construction in Ohio with a total price tag of $4.86 billion.

In addition to Columbiana and Carroll counties, the other gas-fired plants being developed and expected to be operational by 2019 are in Lordstown in Trumbull County (Clean Energy Future), Middletown (NTE Energy LLC), Vinton County (Rolling Hills Power Co.) and Oregon (Oregon Clean Energy).

Those six projects together will produce 5,338 megawatts of electricity, said Jackie Stewart of Energy in Depth-Ohio, a pro-drilling trade group. That is enough electricity to power nearly 4.3 million homes.

Sticking with coal

Despite the boom in gas-fired plants, Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp. has no plans to switch existing plants to natural gas, spokeswoman Stephanie Walton said.

It operates a 545-megawatt gas-fired plant in Lorain and has five gas-fired plants in Pennsylvania. Those plants together can produce 1,447 megawatts. They are used for peak periods when electric demand is high and more electricity is needed.

The company scrapped plans to switch to natural gas at its 1,710-megawatt Hatfield Ferry plant in Masontown, Pa., she said.

Natural gas produces 8 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy companies, Walton said.

Several months ago, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas is producing more electricity than coal for the first time in the United States.

According to the federal agency, natural gas accounted for 31 percent of all electricity produced in the United States in April to coal’s 30 percent. Nuclear power produced 20 percent.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or