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Power Plant Construction Surges in Indiana, Ohio

Sat January 22, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Terri Hughes-Lazzell

Two wholesale merchant power plants under construction in Ohio and Indiana will become the blueprint for future similar projects by Duke Energy North America LLC (DENA), Houston, TX and its new partner, Cinergy Capital and Trading Inc., an affiliate of Cinergy Corp., Ohio.

Nearly identical 640-megawatt, natural gas-fired merchant peaking power plants are being built in Butler County, Ohio, and Vermillion County, IN. The electricity produced at these facilities will be marketed to investor-owned users, such as electrical co-ops, and large factories, according to Rick Rhodes, spokesman for DENA.

The 130-acre site in Vermillion County uses 30 acres to house the eight buildings and the remaining 100 acres as a buffer zone. The sister plant in Butler County is nearly identical and both are being constructed by Duke/Fluor Daniel, a project management, construction and engineering company headquartered in Charlotte, NC, which also designed the project. This design-build company has laid the floor plans for future projects, Manes said. Although site modifications may be necessary, the plant layout and systems will be identical to what the partnership of DENA and Cinergy is currently building.

This project is the first for DENA in the Midwest. The two $200-million-plus plants will primarily serve the surrounding areas once completed and ready for commercial users next summer, Rhodes said.

Project construction plans are aggressive at both the Butler and Vermillion County sites. “What’s interesting about this project is the time line for the merchant power plant,” said Ted Manes, project director of the Vermillion County plant. “We need to get it on line as soon as possible and have accelerated the schedule considerably to have it ready for peak loads during the hot summer.”

By the end of October, about 30 percent of the construction was completed at the Vermillion County site, just two months after foundation work began on the project in August. Similar construction time lines were being met in Ohio.

The eight freestanding buildings on each site will each house combustion turbine generators, designed to generate about 80 megawatts each. Those combustion turbine generators are expected to be in place by early June 2000. Manes said that the 10-month schedule is incredible to meet, but not an impossible pace for the construction project.

At peak construction on the project, about 250 workers are expected to be on each site. Overtime is planned for the construction of the power facilities, and two staggered shifts were included in the construction schedule toward the end of the project, when it may be necessary to meet deadlines, he said.

Once completed, each station will employ up to 12 permanent operations workers.

Commercial operation of the three facilities is anticipated for the summer of 2000, and Cinergy is expected to operate all three facilities. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

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