South Field plant’s financial impact positive sign for community

WELLSVILLE — Both Yellow Creek Township and the Wellsville Local School District should see an almost-immediate impact now that financing for the South Field Energy power plant had been completed.

Per their respective agreements, both the township and the school district will be receiving substantial financial support from Boston-based Advanced Power, which, on Thursday, closed on its financing of $1.3 billion, clearing the way for construction of the proposed 1,182-megawatt natural gas electric power plant on a 150-acre site off Hibbetts Mill Road.

Earlier this week, Superintendent Richard Bereschik and members of the Wellsville Board of Education discussed the importance of the support during its meeting, noting the money will be used toward permanent improvements such curriculum, technology, safety plans, and district facilities.

Teachers in the district learned of the closing from Bereschik on Friday during an in-service day, just as classes are about to start for the new school year on Tuesday.

“We just had opening day (Friday) for teachers, and it’s so good to have everyone back,” Bereschik said. “Being able to deliver that news (Friday) because it’s been five years in the process.”

According to the district’s agreement with Advanced Power signed last year, the district will receive $700,000 within the first 10 days of the closing, $500,000 on both the first and second anniversaries of the closing, and, once taxes kick in four or five years from now, $1.3 million annually for the next 15 years.

Bereschik said he heard from project manager Zac Gordon and assistant manager Colin Brown around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, shortly after the financial deal was finalized, and learned the funding was wired to the school district’s bank shortly afterward.

“They had 10 days to do that, and they did it instantaneously,” Bereschik said.

Bereschik said the district looks forward to a long-term relationship with the plant, similar to the relationship Advanced Power (of which South Field Energy is a subsidiary) has with the Carrollton Exempted Village School District.

Advanced owns the Carroll County Energy plant, a 700-megawatt plant located north of Carrollton, and currently in operation. As part of the agreement between Advanced and the Carrollton school district, Advanced provided $38 million toward the construction of a new grades 6-12 building, located near Community Field. Groundbreaking took place last year.

“From my experience from out in Carrollton, they’re not just out here now to get this open, Advanced Power will be with this community in very many ways through this whole building event and after the plant is up and running, in that they’re making a lifetime commitment towards Wellsville,” Bereschik said.

Meanwhile, Yellow Creek Township also will benefit from the plant and Thursday’s closing.

Per its agreement, the township will receive $1.6 million within 10 days of closing. Once abatement starts, possibly by 2022, the township will receive a payment of $250,000 each year for the next 15 years, while the plant will pay $50,000 toward expenses regarding the compensation agreement and another $25,000 within 10 days of financial closing or 180 days.

Asked for comment Friday, Township Trustee Chairman Kenny Biacco declined and said he instead will provide a statement during the township board of trustees’ next meeting, scheduled 7 p.m. Tuesday at the David W. Boyd Meeting Room on Oak Ridge Road.

Also involved with the plant is the Buckeye Water District, which agreed to a sale agreement in 2016 to which the district will provide raw water to be used during construction.

In that agreement, cost and expenses the district would incur regarding upgrades to current facilities would be compensated along with water volumes used by the plant.

District manager Al DeAngelis could not be reached Friday for comment.

In a statement released Thursday by Advanced Power, the facility itself will use two General Electric gas turbines with a heat recover steam generator and steam turbine generator and will have the capacity to produce enough electricity for approximately one million homes. Once completely built, the facility will sell energy, capacity and ancillary services throughout the PJM Interconnection, consisting of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Construction of the plant will result in a large increase in job opportunities for the area, officials have said. Advanced Power said during its peak period, approximately 1,000 jobs will be created.

Bechtel Development Co., one of the co-owners of the plant as part of an investor group, will handle engineering and construction of the plant, which is anticipated to be completed by the second quarter of 2021.

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