Martins Ferry Times Leader. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday at River High School to discuss a draft permit for a natural gas-fired power plant set to be constructed at the former Ormet site in Hannibal.

Monroe County’s Economic Development representative Jason Hamman shared an overview of the project with the Monroe County Board of Commissioners on Monday. He is asking for letters of support for the project as well as attendance at the hearing to make on-the-record comments in favor of the proposed project and the need for jobs and low-cost energy.

“When completed, (it will be) one of the most energy-efficient power plants of any type in the world,” the project overview states.

The Ohio River Partners Hannibal Power Facility is estimated to cost the owners between $450 million and $500 million in capital investment, and it would generate 300-350 on-site construction jobs. It would employ a permanent staff of 20 “highly skilled” operations and maintenance personnel and would use more than 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas purchases over a 25-year period.

The Ohio Power Siting Board has given the go-ahead for construction, but Ohio EPA air and water discharge permits have not been approved yet. According to Hamman, air permitting is the project’s biggest hurdle to overcome, and it has been added to the Ohio EPA’s “rush list.”

The Ohio EPA said if the permit is approved, the maximum air emissions would not be allowed to exceed levels that protect public health and the environment.

“The cumulative air quality analysis predicted potential impacts for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter,” the OEPA states in a news release. “Additional modeling was conducted for these pollutants to demonstrate that local air quality will be protected.”

Instructions for viewing the draft permit online can be found at epa.ohio.gov/dapc/permits online.aspx by entering the permit number PO122829. Written comments are considered the same as oral testimony and must be received by the close of business on Oct. 30, mailed to Ohio EPA Southeast District Office, Emily Deshaies, 2195 E. Front St., Logan, OH 43138, or via email at [email protected] .gov.

Another project that requires permitting from the OEPA is a natural gas liquids storage facility set to be developed in salt caverns north of Clarington. Monroe County Auditor Pandora Neuhart told commissioners Monday that she spoke with Mountaineer NGL Storage officials regarding land parcels and taxes, and she asked them how the permit process was coming along.

“They said it was a lot slower than what they had thought,” Neuhart said. “If there is anything we can do to help speed this along, it would be greatly appreciated. I think they were a little frustrated.”

“I know what we keep hearing is that this is the first facility of this type in the state of Ohio, so the regulatory people are writing the rules,” said Commissioner Carl Davis. “I’d like to see them pick up the pace a little bit.”

The commissioners sent a letter in support of the project to John Minor, CEO of JobsOhio, in April to try to move the regulatory process forward. The project would be able to store up to 2 million barrels of natural gas liquids in its first phase. The liquids, including ethane, would provide a critical part of natural gas infrastructure that would support segments of the petro-chemical industry that may located in the area.

By Janell Hunter

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