Ohio congressman visits former power plant site

WTAP News @ 5 - Congressman visits former AEP site, discusses future development
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) - It has sat empty for nearly five years, but the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority is working on a plan to develop the former American Electric Power Muskingum River plant site between Beverly and Waterford.

Congressman Bill Johnson not only looked at the site while visiting Monday, he also had suggestions of companies who might be interested in eventually locating there: companies with operations not far from the Ohio River.

“Reaching out to big projects in the region that we know are successful and have partners at the table is a great strategy,” says Jesse Roush, Executive Director, Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, one of a handful of local representatives on hand for Johnson’s visit, “Rarely are those groups done with one project; they’re always looking at what’s next in the portfolio. If we can establish those conversations and draw interest in the site for that next project, that’s well worth undertaking.”

600 people worked at the plant before it ceased operations in 2015. It was an economic engine for Washington County and the Beverly-Waterford area for generations. It’s not certain the same number of people will work there in the future, but local developers believe the potential workforce is still there.

Johnson, meantime, hopes money will be available to develop the site from the massive infrastructure proposal just announced by President Joe Biden.

“I’m concerned that, under this proposal, that we will remain in the back of everyone’s mind in Columbus, in the back of everybody’s mind in Washington, D.C.,” said the Republican Congressman. “So we have to make sure that, if we’re going to spend this kind of money, that we have to have a fair shake in rural Appalachia, where we live.”

A feasability study is under way. There’s 80-90 acres available for development.

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