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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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The villages of Genoa and Elmore will help pay for the closing of a coal-fired power plant in southern Ohio but it should not affect their daily electric rates, village officials said.

The two municipalities must pay a share of the closing costs ($55,000 for Genoa over three years and $49,500 for Elmore) for the Richard H. Gorsuch Generating Station in Marietta because of their affiliation with American Municipal Power Inc. Both of the western Ottawa County villages have received their electricity from AMP-Ohio for years.

However, in recent months, AMP-Ohio has been in discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio EPA over repeated plant violations in conjunction with the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review. The problems date back to 1981.

The entities recently agreed to a Dec. 31, 2012 closing date. But operations will cease at the plant by Dec. 15, 2010. The plan is to operate all four boilers during summer peak season and then reduce to two boilers by mid-December, according to an AMP-Ohio press release.

“Harry Truman was President when this plant first began generating electricity,” AMP President/CEO Marc Gerken said in the release. “AMP acquired partial ownership in 1988, and since that time the plant has been a reliable source of power for our participating members. We are very appreciative of the Gorsuch staff and the dedication they have shown through the years. Unfortunately, the current situation makes retiring the plant the only reasonable business decision, and the decision that makes the most sense for our participants.”

 

Under the terms of agreements with AMP-Ohio, municipalities partner or own utility plants under the AMP-Ohio umbrella.

“It’s a diverse portfolio. Each community that participates doesn’t all own the same thing. They have many facilities and we don’t own a piece of every one of them,” said Garth Reynolds, village administrator for Genoa.

But Genoa and Elmore both happen to have ties to the Marietta-based plant that date back to the 1950s. Thus, they have to carry the costs along with about 12 other municipalities, officials explained.  Genoa Council passed legislation last week. Elmore Council took its turn Monday.

Genoa’s payments will be spread over three years, starting in 2011, said Genoa’s fiscal officer Charles Brinkman.  The village will tap its utility fund to make the payments, he added.

As far as residential utility rates, there should be no impact, both officials said.

“The way it works is as they shut down the plant they will be bringing a hydro-plant online,” Brinkman explained. ”The hydro is a lot cheaper and it’s going to be beneficial in the long run.”

The attractive power market of today enables AMP-Ohio, its participants and others to explore a number of alternatives to generating power and lowering costs, Reynolds added.

In Ottawa County, officials are aggressively pursuing aggregate power.

Voters in 16 Ottawa County townships and municipalities overwhelmingly supported ballot measures that authorize elected officials to enter into electrical aggregations agreements and have the county represent them in negotiations with suppliers for service.

Townships that would be covered include Allen, Bay, Benton, Carroll, Catawba, Clay, Danbury, Erie, Harris, Portage, Put-in-Bay and Salem; villages include Clay Center, Marblehead, and Rocky Ridge.  The city of Port Clinton is also a member of the aggregated group.

By approving the ballot measure, voters agreed to establish what is called an “opt out” aggregation – a program that automatically enrolls local residents unless they individually opt-out of the program.

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