Ohio Christens a New Natural Gas Plant

by Jack Anderson, Energy in Depth

The Oregon Clean Energy Center (OCEC) opened for business in Ohio on Monday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich visited OCEC to join the ceremonial ribbon-cutting as the facility came to life, adding 870 megawatts of power to the grid. The combined-cycle natural gas fired plant is officially the most environmentally friendly power plant in the state, and provides enough electricity to power over 700,000 homes.
“We are excited to announce that the Oregon Clean Energy Center is online, providing clean, affordable reliable power to hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and consumers,” said Peter Rigney, Projects General Manager at OCEC. “This milestone would not have been possible without the support and cooperation from the City of Oregon, from its initial approval of the project to reaching commercial operations this month.”
OCEC’s development has provided an economic boom for the surrounding region. Investments totaling $800 million were made in the area because of the plant. Construction employed 950 people over four years. Now operational, OCEC will add $20 million to the local economy on an annual basis for years to come and employ dozens of local residents. The state’s regulatory environment played a big role in facilitating the construction of OCEC and providing this economic boost to the area around the City of Oregon.
“Think about this: This plant is providing the same amount of power as one nuclear plant. And at the same time we say that, there’s no risk to it,” noted Gov. Kasich. “So this is the future here. This is a big deal. So I think it’s important that Ohio stay in a deregulated environment which brings in investors. If all of a sudden you don’t have a level playing field then you don’t have significant investment. It will go in another place.”
As one of the most technologically advanced natural gas plants in the country, OCEC’s smart design eliminated many of the environmental and safety risks associated with other forms of power generation. Because it burns locally sourced natural gas from the Marcellus shale region, OCEC produces 50 percent less carbon dioxide and just one-third of the wastewater produced by coal plants of the same size. OCEC emits 90 percent less sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and fine particulate matter than coal plants of comparable generation capacity.
Considering all the economic and environmental benefits, plenty of Ohioans have expressed their excitement and support for OCEC. State Rep. Michael P. Sheehy, a Democrat who represents the Oregon District in the state legislature, called OCEC “a tremendous asset to the region.” Sheehy applauded the “hundreds of local workers out at the plant, safely bringing low-cost, clean burning electric generation to Ohioans.”
Local officials were also exuberant about the opening of OCEC. Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley called it “a monument to the hard work and collaboration of the investors, developers, state and local government leaders, and the thousands of area residents that helped to build it.” Commenting on the benefits offered by the natural gas plant, Beazley said, “It puts people to work while producing lower priced electrical power for Ohio businesses and homes for decades to come.”  John Minor, President of JobsOhio, an economic development organization, called OCEC a “state of the art facility” that is creating “high-paying jobs across the state.”
Unfortunately, not every state is fully enjoying the benefits of American natural gas to the extent Ohio is taking advantage of it through projects like OCEC. New York, for example, banned hydraulic fracturing and has made a habit of denying permits to natural gas pipeline and power projects that would save the state’s residents millions of dollars while creating thousands of new jobs. But many other states across the USA are making the most of the opportunities offered by shale gas, creating job opportunities galore for skilled tradesmen throughout the country. More projects like OCEC are sure to create economic, environmental and energy advantages for America in the future.

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