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Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Power plant price triples

By William Kincaid
The estimated price for construction of an AMP-Ohio power plant in Meigs County, which would supply Celina and other local communities with electricity, has skyrocketed from an initial cost of $1 billion to nearly $3.4 billion.
Celina City Council met this week to discuss the project with John Bentine of American Municipal Power of Ohio (AMP-Ohio). Bentine said the project costs jumped up because of higher costs of materials and the high demand of coal to China and India.
AMP-Ohio is a nonprofit corporation that owns and operates electric facilities and provides for the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power and energy to its members. Its plant in Meigs County near the Ohio River would help protect its residents and businesses from the volatile market by reducing the organization's overall dependency on wholesale market purchases, AMP-Ohio's Web site says.
The new plant is not expected to be online until 2013.
The costs of the clean-coal burning plant is to be split among the 90 AMP-Ohio member communities based on how much they draw from the station.
Other local communities which are members of AMP-Ohio are Coldwater, Minster, New Bremen, New Knoxville, Versailles and Wapakoneta.
Celina Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel on Friday said the AMP plant would give members a long-term power source for at least the next 40 to 50 years. He said it also would give the city some control over the market and inflation.
Celina currently obtains its electricity from multiple sources through DP&L lines, Hazel said.
City council members this week learned the project will cost the city at least $60 million during the next 50 years. The plant would provide Celina residents with 19 megawatts of their baseload needs, which is currently a total of 46 to 48 megawatts, according to Hazel.
The city would own 1.9 percent of the plant.
The city's cost would be included in residential electric rates. The project rates are estimated to be 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour in 2012 and later increased based on projections of fuel costs, inflation, building materials, labor and other issues.
Celina already has spent $90,000 for its share of a feasibility study.
Hazel said he believes Celina needs to look for long-time power supply. He also stated that Celina is dependent upon power generated by others and that deregulation of the electric markets did not promote competitive markets as originally intended.

Councilman Ed Jeffries is against participation in the American Municipal Power of Ohio (AMP-Ohio) power plant to be built in Meigs County due to the high costs.
City council members this week learned the plant would cost at least $60 million during the next 50 years.
With that hefty bill, Jeffries said each man, woman and child in Celina would contribute $6,000 to cover the cost for the plant. The plant would provide Celina with 19 megawatts of the total 46-48 megawatts the city purchases, according to Celina Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel.
Jeffries called the newspaper this week expressing concern and opposition to the plan.
Jeffries said Celina has until March 1 to back out of its commitment to AMP-Ohio, though he doesn't think that will happen. He also doesn't know whether council members will vote on any related ordinances at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall.
Jeffries said he is against obligating the people of Celina to any million-dollar debt. He also said Celina already has been down the road of creating its own power plant, pointing out the notorious Blue Goose that recently was dismantled.
The high price would be paid through residential electric bills, which Jeffries said would increase by 50 percent.
"Where's the big savings if we're only going for a third?" he asked, referring to the plant providing only 19 megawatts to the city.
He also said Celina's payment portion could increase if other AMP members decide to back out.
- William Kincaid
Additional online story on this date
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