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Developer puts plans for energy plant on hold

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Trish Bennett, Editor

MONROE TOWNSHIP – Plans for a proposed energy plant in Monroe Township have been put on hold by the developer, but the site is still considered an area of interest for the company.

“We are still absolutely evaluating Monroe Township and Pickaway County,” said Mike Schuster, project developer for NTE Energy. “We just figured we’d take a step back right now, because we pride ourselves on community involvement, and we want to have a chance to explain what’s really going on.”

The move came after a heated township trustee meeting Oct. 19 in which area residents expressed their opposition to the proposed facility that would tie into existing natural gas pipelines and power lines to generate electricity to sell on a wholesale basis.

Schuster said NTE chose not to file an application for connection into the existing infrastructure on Friday, opting instead to learn more about the community and address issues and concerns before such a project might move forward.

“We didn’t file today, which doesn’t prevent us from filing in the future,” Schuster said. “We will definitely file, it’s just a matter of where, and if Pickaway County and Monroe Township is the right place.”

Schuster said NTE Energy plans to reach out to the community in the coming weeks and months to fully explain the project and address their concerns.

“Community involvement is our absolute priority,” he said. “We want to make sure people have the opportunity to really understand what this project is about. If there continue to be concerns, maybe we will decide this is not the right place for us, but we’d like to be able to address those issues.”

At the Oct. 19 meeting, an NTE representative said the company had explored 25 different sites in southeastern Ohio, but the Monroe Township site rated the highest based on scoring criteria involving 16 different elements. One of its most desirable features is the existing infrastructure of natural gas and power lines.

At that meeting, residents expressed concerns about the health and safety of students in the Westfall Local School District, along with property values, noise levels, light pollution, increased heavy traffic and the environmental impact of such a facility.

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal