By Rasheedah Beatty
Until now, information regarding the groundbreaking for the new Guernsey Power Station has been vague. The project initially received pushback from American Electric Power, or AEP, because the site of the power station sits on top of underground mines. In an interview with The Daily Jeffersonian, Norm Blanchard, the economic development director for the Cambridge-Guernsey County CIC, said everything was in place for the project to move forward—except for approval from AEP. After a follow-up on the projects’ evolution in 2019, Blanchard says, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will be rendering its decision on the AEP complaint and that critical point will determine the next actions that take place regarding the project.”
The Caithness Energy LLC and Apex Power Group LLC are partnering for this project. They are both independent power producers that specialize in natural gas-fueled power projects. Apex Power Group’s website claims that the group “searched for months in Southeastern Ohio and Southwest PA before finding this excellent site in Guernsey County, Ohio.” It also claims that the Guernsey County community welcomes the project and has supported it for two years. It is in question then why this site was chosen if the underground mines pose a risk factor. Gemma Power Systems also won an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for this project. Gemma Power Systems was notified to begin working on the preliminary designs and site preparation activities
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, or ODNR, the site sits on coal-bearing rock and abandoned mines. Many of the mines’ exact positions on the land are unknown. ODNS also reports that one of the most significant hazards posed by the mines is the risk of mine subsidence. This could cause the ground surface to begin lowering, which could result in a collapse. Although it takes decades to reach a collapse risk, the likelihood of a collapse is hard to pinpoint since the locations of many of the mines are unknown.
The Guernsey Power Station has a project page website created by the Caithness Energy LLC that lists the project overview, its development facts and its intended economic benefits. According to the site, the project consists of building a proposed “1650-megawatt, natural gas fired energy generation facility.” It’s claimed that the station will have the ability to produce enough electricity to power about 1.5 million homes in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. That is a hefty claim, and one that AEP has qualms with. Another proposed benefit for the people of Guernsey County is that this project will create new jobs and tax revenue, which would boost the local economy.
Neither of the independent power producers have commented on the potential risk posed by building this site on top of the underground mining. The primary focus on the site’s location, according to Caithness Energy, is that the site will be “located in the heart of Ohio’s shale development activity – Valley Township in Guernsey County in Southeast Ohio.” The project is estimated to begin in the latter half of 2019, and the estimated completion date is in 2022.