Energy
11:24 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Middletown Plant Part Of Trend Towards Natural Gas, Away From Coal

A sketch of the proposed natural gas power plant in Middletown.
Credit NTE Energy

Plans for a new natural gas-fired power plant have been announced in Middletown. The plant would employ 300-400 people for about three years of construction, and 25-30 when it is up and running in 2018.

Middletown is part of a statewide trend towards natural gas and away from coal. From November 2012 to November 2013, energy generated from natural gas in Ohio increased 16 percent, in part because natural gas prices have become competitive with Appalachian coal.

In July, 2013 an $800 million natural gas generator was announced in Carroll County in eastern Ohio, and now NTE Energy says it will put $500 million into the Middletown project.

“With the new gas that’s available on the market and some of the pricing on that gas, and the cleanliness of burning it, it’s a very attractive fuel for current generation,” said Tim Eves, Senior Vice President for Development at NTE Energy.

Eves says NTE Energy chose the Middletown site in part because of its proximity to two interstate natural gas pipelines, the Rockies Express and Texas Eastern pipelines.

In eastern Ohio, where natural gas production has been ramping up in the Marcellus and Utica shales, infrastructure for processing and transport of the gas is lagging behind, which means much of the gas used in Middletown is likely to come from as far away as Texas or Colorado. In 2012, Ohio ranked 19th in the country in natural gas production.

Burning natural gas puts out a much lower volume of greenhouse gases than coal, but it’s remained controversial because the natural gas boom is powered by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Regardless of the gradual ramping up of electric generation from natural gas, Ohio remains a coal state at its core: close to 80 percent of the energy generated here comes from coal-fired plants.

The Middletown NTE Energy project still has to go through the permit application process and hopes to begin construction in 2015 and go on line in 2018.