While the public focuses on high-profile projects like the possible Belmont County ethane cracker, there’s another project quietly going forward in Monroe County.
At the site of the former Ormet plant, Fortress Investment Group out of New York purchased 1660 acres in June.
And they are about to build a natural gas fired power plant there.
People were surprised to hear about Long Ridge Energy, and they liked the idea.
“Anything that can stimulate the growth of this area would be good, you know, after the steel and coal industry kind of fell apart,” said John Celli of St. Clairsville. “I think it’s good business for the locals around here.”
“I think it would be a really good idea, especially if they hired a lot of locals,” said Jeff Culley of New Martinsville. “They’ll bring in a lot of jobs and probably help the economy a little bit. So I think it’s a good idea.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Regina Hill of Powhatan. “I think it’s going to be a lot of production here for Monroe County. We need something here in this area to bring in and provide jobs.”
Long Ridge Energy’s president says the site is perfect because of the abundance of cheap natural gas and pipelines already in place.
“When the facility operated as an aluminum plant under Ormet, it used as much electricity as the entire City of Pittsburgh,” said Robert Wholey, president of Long Ridge Energy. “So that required a lot of existing infrastructure that we have here, like the transmission lines that we are re-purposing.”
He says the old long, narrow buildings from Ormet will be torn down.
And a worldwide state of the art power plant will be built, employing 300 workers in the construction phase, which will begin this year.
And in two years, it will be operating.
“There will be about 20 -25 full time jobs once the plant’s operational that will require primarily employees with an engineering background,” noted Wholey.
And they say the power plant will be just the beginning for this property.
“So we have 1600 acres here of total property,” Wholey concluded. “Importantly, the power plant only uses about 20 acres of that footprint. So the power plant, we view as a really important first step in our overall plans for the facility.”
They say the property also comes with a railroad and a large harbor on the river, making it ideal for their purposes.