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GenOn Will Close Avon Lake Power Plant by 2015

"Slight chance" plant will remain open, but not likely

Energy leaders said its the coal-fire power plant next to Miller Road Park in Avon Lake will close by April 2015, although plans are not definite.

A press release issued  on Feb. 29 by the company said the Avon Lake facility’s closing was “subject to further review based on market conditions.”

“In particular, while the initial analysis for additional environmental controls at Avon Lake indicated that forecasted returns on those investments were insufficient, the evaluation of the returns on those environmental controls is continuing,” the release said.

GenOn is based in Houston and operates 47 generating stations in 12 states.

The release also said the Lake Road plant is one of several scheduled for closing “because forecasted returns on investments necessary to comply with environmental regulations are insufficient.”

Plants on the closing list include Elrama, PA (June 2012); Niles, OH, June 2012; Portland, PA (Jan 2015); Avon Lake; New Castle, PA (April 2015); Shawville, PA (April 2015); Titus, PA (April 2015) and Glen Gardner, NJ (May 2015).

In December, Patch reported the company was working after the EPA lagged in issuing it. In early February, reports surfaced that the plant was one of the county’s largest greenhouse polluters.

In story reported that the power plant was on a “secret EPA watch list,” however Avon Lake and GenOn officials both said the plant was fully compliant with all EPA laws.

Mayor Greg Zilka said the plant’s closing would mean a financial hit for Avon Lake.

“In 2011, the income tax generated (from the plant) was $77,460,” Zilka said. “Property taxes were $134,000.”

Zilka said he was “disappointed and discouraged” by the potential closing and felt the press release issued by the company left a sliver of hope the plant would remain open.

“I talked to (external affairs manager) Mark Baird about it and asked him if there’s any hope and he said a slight one,” Zilka said.

Baird said dates are not set in stone.

"The announced deactivation dates are our best estimates based on the compliance deadlines for environmental regulations and current market conditions," Baird said. "If these factors change, we would re-evaluate and adapt our plans as appropriate."

Zilka said he felt bad for the school district, which would lose income based on the property tax loss.

What happens to the building if GenOn moves forward with the 2015 closure remains to be seen.

“We’d come up with  plan to try to keep it,” Zilka said. “The property will be devalued. It has tremendous potential value, but the building itself has a history with chemicals.”

Baird said the plant does not plan any immediate changes. 

"The company does not anticipate any material changes to the structures or the site at this time," Baird said. "We will maintain the site appearance while the plant is in a deactivated state. Any proposals to remove the structures on the site will be evaluated to determine if such actions are economic."

Denise Emerson February 29, 2012 at 09:00 PM
History? I thought the goal was to take all the history out of Avon Lake and build more houses? I'm shocked that the leaders of this city even care about that.
Lori E. Switaj February 29, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I think the mayor is saying it has a "history with chemicals" which could make it a challenge for another company or the city to work with.
Melissa Porcelli February 29, 2012 at 09:44 PM
If a major polluter in Ohio wants to leave our town I think that we should be happy about it. Time to consider more green energy options. Maybe now we'll be able to use the waterfront area for something that is less of an eyesore.
Tom Patton February 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM
This is old news. The cost to continue operations are prohibitive, as the EPA will never certify continuation, regardless of upgrades. Obviously, GenOn is stating that in the event we have a different President in 2013, political climate may become more energy friendly. It does sound like the City Adminstration is not planning on doing any advance planning - even though this is the most important property in Avon Lake to take advantage of the Lake (Avon Lake's only true asset and virtually ignored by prior City Administrations) - Tom Patton
Dave D March 01, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Wow, just think of the possibilities for a great Marina on that site next to Miller rd park. If this is handled right, it could be a real boon to the city. I for one am excited over the possibilities. We can only press our city leaders to start planning now. We can only hope.
Kathleen O'Brien Wilhelm March 01, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Will Ford Motor, PolyOne, and other companies leave because of the stringent requirements of the government EPA? Is this an example of what business can expect from Avon Lake? Will our taxes increase? Will the price of electricity increase? GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO GET OUT OF PEOPLE'S LIVES.
Amy Spalding March 01, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Genon is a merchant plant, which means it supplies power to an open grid only at certain peak times, when the cost per kilowatt is at a certain level. If/when Genon closes this plant, we will not be sitting in the dark. We'll be breathing in less hydrochloric acid, arsenic, lead and mercury. I, too, hope the Avon Lake mayor and city council can think of creative ways to offset the lost tax revenues and do something with the lake front property.
Brad Hutcherson March 01, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Except we will all be sitting in the dark with no place to go because the batteries in our electric cars will be dead; because we will not be able to afford the electricity with this EPA
Scott Rollins March 01, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Make the park bigger?
John Meola March 01, 2012 at 04:08 AM
One the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the United States closing? Good riddance. I'll gladly pay a few additional dollars in taxes or electriciy costs if it means a major pollutor in our community shuts down. This is not the kind of economic development we need here.
Candace Ashton March 01, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I agree with John Meola. I know there will be environmental and health challenges to overcome but imagine parkland ... imagine property values rising ... even better, imagine less cancer in Avon Lake and surrounding communities!!
Andrea S March 01, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Seems to me everyone is automatically thinking the property is going to go to the city and it will be turned into something fabulous. I'm assuming GenOn owns the property the plant is on which means it's up to them as to what is going to happen to it after they close. I hope the city will buy it, but then comes the question of how much will it cost to tear down that plant safely? Everyone is envisioning parks and marinas but even if it closes and the city buys the land it would be YEARS before the plant is taken down (if it ever is) and something is built in it's place. The city just doesn't have the money to undertake that kind of project (esp one it loses all the tax money from this plant). More than likely it will remain an eyesore, but an empty one for many years to come. Just being realistic here.
Mark Wilcox March 01, 2012 at 03:01 PM
If we want clean air and water we're going to have to pay for it. Lake Erie would still be the sewer it was in the 1960s without EPA regulations. Eventually the aging power plant will be gone and Avon Lake will lose the tax revenue. Local leaders should start planning now on what will replace it.
Lori E. Switaj March 01, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I believe a city ordinance states that if a property for sale is tangent to a park, the city gets first right to purchase. This was how the city got the Lake House, which is adjacent to Veterans Park.
Lori E. Switaj March 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Good point Andrea. With the size of that property it will be worth a small fortune. Perhaps by then the city will not be operating at a deficit.
Andrea S March 01, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I just wonder how much it will cost to tear down that plant, then make the land safe, and repurpose it as a park? There will probably need to be soil testing and whatnot done? Either way it's likely to be in the millions of dollars for the entire project. Perhaps Avon Lake could look into getting a government grant, there are all sorts of grants out there for "green" projects.
lisa walker March 01, 2012 at 08:13 PM
My opinion may be different, but I live near the plant and I think it can be a unique opportunity for the city to open for public tours. They can clean it up and provide safety alterations inside the building. I often go to the beach there and my friends and family do not have a problem with the plant. As a tour destination, it can be educational and be incorporated into the city park. Make use out of the building, if it closes, that is. Just an idea.
lisa walker March 02, 2012 at 12:13 AM
There is a refurbished steel mill in Duisburg-nord, Germany, called Landschaftspark. After the mill closed down, it was later turned into a complete tourist attraction, with concert venues, a cafe, re-done walkways, colored lights, and even gardens. People can take guided tours of the mill, and learn about how a steel mill works. It would be great if we could see this in Ohio.
Bob Blosser March 02, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I would love to see the city buy the property and create a wind farm on it. Done right, the city could replace the revenue loss and see a ROI in around ten years.
Lydia Taylor December 13, 2012 at 03:56 PM
To Whom It May Concern: I am a resident of Sheffield Lake, Ohio as you can see. From all the news I am reading you are considering closing the plant in Avon Lake, Ohio in 2015. Instead of closing the plant and laying off all those people, why not look into becoming an alternative power company. They city of Cleveland is talking about building a wind mill turbines on the lake so why not since you are right on the lake and a lot of wind comes from the lake build wind mill turbines for power. You can still keep the plant open and keep the other part open for days that there is no wind and the wind mill turbines are not generating electricity. Talk to the workers see who is willing to go to school or you can hire people right out of college for the engineering of the alternative energy. This would solve the problem of loose of work for the plant people not to mention you can get Government grants to help you expand our business in wind mill turbines. I am not a genus in this field but it is something to look into while you have time This will make a better opportunity for everyone all around. Thank you for taking the time in reading this. Hope you consider this idea. Thank you again have a good day.
Lydia Taylor December 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM
to many people are loosing their job. We need to think of that. There are different ways to handle thing like this, different alternatives such as the wind mill turbines. Why have so many more people out of work? Why support it? The power plant has guideline they have to follow for pollution. The thing is we all pollute the air by driving our cars around and things we do in everyday life. So all the haters out there need to take a look at their life before saying yes close the plant lay all the workers off. You pollute the air also. So think about it everyone push and pull for te people who work for that plant push them in a better direction such as the wind mill turbines. This is being thought of 7 mile off the shores of lake Eire any way so why not think of it for here and they can actually become a player in the power grid instead of just play in the peek hours, and maybe lower the prices for the consumer.Have a great day everyone.

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