Union pushing for local labor to build Harrison County power plant

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Bill Davis, a trustee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, poses for a photo following the Harrison County Board of Commissioners’ meeting last week. Davis met with commissioners to ask for their support in helping to secure jobs during the construction phase of a proposed power plant.

CADIZ — Local union workers are looking to the Harrison County Commissioners for aid in securing work, when the time comes, during the construction phase of a proposed power plant in Cadiz.

Bill Davis, a trustee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 246, met with commissioners Wednesday to inquire about the proposed Harrison Energy Center that is set to be constructed at the Industrial Park in Cadiz. He said he has concerns regarding the company outsourcing workers once construction begins on the project instead of hiring locally.

“The owner of the project hired Gemma Power Solutions to do the work, and we have not been able to get to the table with them through the building trades to use local union labor. This company has a record of direct hiring from the south of the country,” he said.

Davis said they have union members in Harrison, Jefferson, Carroll and Columbiana counties who are qualified and ready to work the jobs.

“I hate to see a project of this magnitude go to people to construct this project that lives out of town when we have more than enough manpower in this area,” he said. “This is where people spend their money, this is where people pay taxes. I dont think it’s right for people to come from all over the country when they’re not paying money into this county or any other surrounding county.”

Davis explained that the IBEW has plenty of experience with plant projects. Through the building trades, he said they have been involved in the construction of the cryogenic gas plant in Cadiz, the condensate plant in Cadiz, a power plant in Wellsville and another in Carrollton, Ohio.

Davis said they have reached out to company officials but have yet to receive a response. This prompted him to come to commissioners in hopes of gaining their support in the matter and urging officials to keep the work local.

“We’re just trying to find a way to get to the table with this company so we can start it out on the right foot,” he said. ” … I just wanted to see if there was any way you could help encourage them to use local labor, local people to build this thing instead of bringing in others.”

Commissioner Don Bethel said the company is paying the county around $6,500 per month to reserve the land. He said he is assuming there will most likely be a mixture of local and out-of-town labor used to complete the project.

“At this point in time, to be frank, we’re more focused on getting it here. Now obviously, we’re going to watch out to make sure that there are responsible builders who know what they’re doing and we prefer them to be local, at least 50 percent anyway,” he said, adding that a concern he has is if the power plant and Dilles Bottom ethane cracker plant both get the green light at the same time.

“There’s going to be a big worry about where these workers are going to come from. … If we can lock it up first, that would be great.”

The 1,085-megawatt power plant was first announced in early 2020, though the project had been in the works for at least a few years prior. However, there has been little movement on the project since. The plant is anticipated to provide between 500 and 750 construction jobs during the approximately three-year construction period.

According to prior reports, the power plant could break ground later this year.


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