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OilMonster
Natural Gas September 18, 2020 02:30:03 AM

Ohio State Gains Approval For On-Campus Natural Gas Plant

Anil
Mathews
OilMonster Author
The Ohio Power Siting Board approved the construction, operation and maintenance of a natural-gas power plant on West Campus Thursday.
Ohio State Gains Approval For On-Campus Natural Gas Plant

SEATTLE (Oil Monster): The Ohio Power Siting Board approved the construction, operation and maintenance of a natural-gas power plant on West Campus Thursday.

The $278-million plant will produce thermal energy and electricity for Ohio State’s main campus, according to the project application. The power plant faced opposition from the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group that filed a petition in March to intervene in the case, along with several Ohio State students, faculty and staff.

University spokesperson Dan Hedman said the plant will cut carbon emissions by more than 30 percent in its first year of operation while providing energy-efficient electricity, heating and cooling to Ohio State’s campus.

“We are pleased with the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision,” Hedman said. “This is positive news, as the Combined Heat and Power Plant will support the campus core and is expected to cut carbon emissions.”

The power plant will produce thermal energy powered by natural gas, which requires the use of fracking, a process of drilling into the earth to extract natural gas, according to Ohio State’s plant proposal application. Opponents of the power plant raised concerns about its potential environmental impact.

Becca Pollard, statewide organizer for the Sierra Club, said the plant’s construction will increase levels of air pollution on Ohio State’s campus and the surrounding region.

“This is alarming, especially during a global respiratory pandemic,” Pollard said. 

The Ohio Power Siting Board held two public hearings June 30 and July 15, at which several Ohio State students, faculty and staff testified. In the first hearing, 20 individuals testified in opposition to the plant and two testified in support. In the second hearing, 32 individuals testified in opposition to the plant and nine testified in support, according to the meeting agenda. 

According to the meeting agenda, Ohio State selected a 1.18-acre parcel of university-owned land on West Campus for the plant’s location due to its proximity to existing energy infrastructure and State Route 315, while also at a distance from most students and other campus facilities. The university’s application proposal says the construction site would not impact any streams, wetlands, lakes, reservoirs or floodplains.

The proposed plant will include a main building standing 60 feet tall, cooling towers extending 27 feet off the roof and two 125-foot steel stacks, according to the Ohio Power Siting Board website. The university said the plant will serve as the main source of electricity and heating for the Columbus campus.

The Sierra Club and Ohio State have 30 days to file a request for a reconsideration of the board’s decision if either party is not happy with all or part of the board’s decision, Matt Butler, spokesperson for the Ohio Siting Power Board, said.

Although disappointed in the board’s decision, Pollard said she hopes students can successfully urge University President Kristina M. Johnson by signing a petition created by the Sierra Club to halt the plans for the construction of the plant.

“The fight is not over. Right now we are supporting students in their effort to push OSU to make the right decision,” she said.

Courtesy: www.thelantern.com

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