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County working toward grant

Monroe angling for $20M in gas power plant funding

WOODSFIELD — The Monroe County Board of Commissioners is working with an economic development consultant to secure $20 million in grant funds to support development of a 485-megawatt natural gas power plant.

The Ohio Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grant will aid in the development and construction of the Long Ridge Energy Terminal at the site of the former Ormet Aluminum Corp. in Hannibal. Word was received in December that Monroe County would be awarded the grant. Now the county must meet certain criteria in order to start the money flowing.

Commissioners had a conference call with representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation during a regularly commission meeting Monday. The call aimed to inform the commissioners of the BUILD Grant requirements. Jason Hamman, economic development consultant with Hamman Consulting, arranged the telephone conversation and was present with commissioners.

Representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration — including FRA Project Manager Andrea Armstrong, FRA Grant Manager Andrew Peternith, FRA Environmental Protection Specialist Amanda Ciampolillo and FRA MTAC Consultant Matthew Mielke — were on the opposing end of the call to explain the grant requirements and obligations to commissioners. Armstrong said the FRA enables the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.

“BUILD 2018 is a USDOT Grant Program to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. The program was previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER. Under BUILD 2018, Monroe County was selected to receive up to $20,000,000,” she said.

All steps to ensure the grant funds will be invested as planned must be completed by September 2020. Prior to the funds being awarded, environmental clearance must be completed, Armstrong instructed.

Any time a project is awarded federal funds or a federal permit, an environmental review is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, Ciampolillo said. NEPA ensures the agency will fully consider the environmental impact of the project, she said. In this case, there will be an environmental assessment that is already underway, Ciampolillo added.

Once the survey is complete, the environmental report will be subject to public review for 30 days, she said.

The grantee must develop a grant agreement, and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation must provide final approval of the grant’s documents, Armstrong explained. The final grant will require the grantee’s acceptance in Grant Solutions. A representative of the grantee must be authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the county, Armstrong said. Commission President Tim Price was appointed as the Monroe County representative for the project.

“I think I can speak pretty confidentially, on behalf of everyone in the room, we’re pretty excited about the project and, of course, really thrilled to be awarded this grant. Looking forward to getting the project underway,” Hamman said.

Hamman said it will be a little while before construction begins. The construction period is about two years and will include pipeline installation and the actual terminal itself, he said.

“This is a process,” he added.

The new power plant is expected to be completed in about two years. Ormet closed in 2013 and, at its height, had employed 2,000 people. The energy terminal is expected to generate 250-400 temporary construction jobs and to employ about 20 people in full-time positions once it is in operation.

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