Middletown’s NTE power plant to be among cleanest in country

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Middletown’s NTE power plant to be among cleanest in country

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Construction continues at the NTE Energy plant in Middletown. The natural gas-fueled power plant could open in 2018. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Construction is progressing on NTE Energy’s approximately $500 million natural-gas-fired power plant, which should be in operation by June 1, 2018, a company official said.

When complete, the Middletown Energy Center being built near the intersection of Cincinnati-Dayton and Oxford State roads will put out 475 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes.

“The Middletown Energy Center will be one of the cleanest and most efficient natural-gas-fired power plants in the USA once it is operational,” said Michael Schuster, a project developer for NTE, which is based in St. Augustine, Fla. The plant’s construction began in October 2015 and is expected to take just over two years before the plant is ready to burn gas and add electricity supplies to the region’s grid.

It will be highly efficient because it not only uses natural gas to create energy, but also uses heat created by the power-generation process that otherwise would be wasted, he said.

Rather than going to waste, at heat will be harnessed “to create steam, which drives a steam turbine, producing additional energy,” Schuster said.

In addition to that added efficiency, “clean-burning natural gas power plants such as the Middletown Energy Center produce significantly fewer emissions than older fossil fuel power plants,” he said.

Gemma Power Systems of Connecticut is performing the construction, which is requiring about 200 full-time temporary jobs. Once operational, the plant will have 25 permanent employees.

“Construction of the facility is progressing very well,” Schuster said.

Aside from creating reliable energy and more jobs for the region, the plant will, be “a significant contributor to property taxes … and will be a large water and waste water customer of the city of Middletown,” Schuster said.

The Middletown Energy Center is the biggest development project in Middletown since the approximately $400 million SunCoke Energy coke plant was built on Yankee Road to supply AK Steel Holding Corp. SunCoke Energy Middletown opened at the end of 2011.

While power plants can be a financial boon to Ohio school districts where they are located, Middletown City Schools treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Randy Burtram said the school district does not have an estimate of how much revenue the project will add to its budget.

“I really don’t have any projections at this time for the power plant,” Bertram said. “Estimating this type of facility is very complex and may require expertise beyond my level of knowledge.”

Bertram said officials also do not have “any idea of what may happen in the new biennium budget that will begin July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.” Because of uncertainty about the budget, “My plans are to wait on the next biennium budget bill to begin and then analyze the power plant as it pertains to our funding,” he said.

Middletown city officials in March of 2015 granted the project a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement. During the 10-year abatement period, the school district is to be reimbursed with 50 percent of the city income taxes collected, which is a requirement of state law.

According to an enterprise zone agreement, also approved in March 2015, NTE Ohio has agreed to reimburse Middletown city government for the income tax sharing requirements to the school district.

The city has said the power plant would be the city’s largest water user, consuming about 2.1 million gallons per day.

Staff writer Ed Richter contributed to this report.

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