Construction underway on natural gas plant in eastern Ohio

CARROLLTON (AP) — Construction has begun on a nearly $900 million natural gas-fired power plant in eastern Ohio that’s expected to produce enough electricity to power 750,000 homes.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports ( a ceremonial groundbreaking for Carroll County Energy was held Tuesday near Carrollton, about 70 miles southeast of Cleveland.

The plant will create half the carbon dioxide of a similar coal-fired plant, said Thomas Spang, chief executive officer of Advanced Power AG, a Swiss company behind the project. It will also create less than 10 percent of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

The company expects about 700 construction jobs and 21 permanent jobs will be created.

The plant is scheduled to begin operations in December 2017.

“This is a historic event,” Carroll County Commissioner Jeff Ohler said. He called the plant “a game-changer.”

The county hopes the new plant will provide a boost to the local economy as other facilities are built nearby that will tap into the electric power, Commissioner Bob Wirkner said.

Five other gas-fired plants are also slated to be built, expanded or converted to produce electricity in Ohio. They’re all expected to be operational by 2019.

Those six projects will result in combined expenditures of $3.8 billion. Jackie Stewart of Energy in Depth-Ohio, a pro-drilling trade group, said the projects will produce more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 3.5 million homes.

Two hundred U.S. coal-fired plants have been shut down since 2010, according to the Sierra Club, a national eco-group that has been pushing to close coal plants. Those plants caused 6,000 heart attacks, 60,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 deaths each year, the group said.

Michael Brune, executive director of the group, said removing those plants will improve the health of Americans and help the country switch to clean energy like wind and solar.

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