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One and done: Committee recommends lump sum payment

December 16, 2011

Councilor-at-large and Utilities Committee Chair Steve Walter

The directive — make payment to American Municipal Power (AMP) and be done with the project.
Wapakoneta City Council Finance Committee members recommended Thursday paying $533,570 for its participation in an AMP power plant for costs associated with the unfinished coal-fired plant and end its obligation to the project.
“I think we should pay the lump sum and be done with it,” Councilor-at-large and Utilities Committee Chair Steve Walter told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “I would like to propose we don’t mail the check and we personally deliver it so I have a chance to talk with Mark Gerken and give him a piece of my mind.”
Gerken is president and CEO of AMP.
“I think this is a great idea,” Safety-Service Director Bill Rains told Utilities Committee members during Thursday’s meeting. “Let’s be done with this once and for all. Let’s pay this and hold them to this agreement, let’s hold them accountable for this and if we are successful in litigation then that is a great thing for our residents and consumers and we will get some of this money back.”
AMPGS was a proposed $3.25 billion, 1,000-megawatt generation facility, which was to utilize the latest in proven clean coal technology. The proposed site of the project was on 600 acres in Meigs County, adjacent to the Ohio River. Since the project is halted, the land could be sold.
The project stalled due to lawsuits and other problems regarding construction and environmental concerns. The participating member communities shared in the expense of the lawsuit and engineering completed to this point.
Presented with the option of either making a lump sum payment or paying the principal and 3 percent interest for 15 years, the two remaining Finance Committee members voiced their support of a lump sum payment.
“I would like to end this chapter of AMPGS and pay this entire amount,” Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. said in making a motion on a recommendation for council to consider. “I would like to put this project behind us.”
Councilor-at-large and Finance Committee Chair Wilbur Wells echoed his sentiment and addressed the status of the city’s Electric Fund.
“I am certain there is enough money in the Electric Fund to pay this and I can’t see paying interest on this amount if we have the money,” Wells said. “But I wouldn’t pay any of it until we see an invoice.”
The deadline to pay is Jan. 31.
The city was to pay $809,968 of stranded cost on the project, but they received a reduction of $276,398 because councilors decided to participate in the AMP’s Fremont Energy Campus, a natural gas electric generating plant. Rains said he has been told that plant should be on-line and producing electricity in the next couple of weeks.
Under a similar agreement, the city of St. Marys must pay $2.7 million to end their involvement in the project. St. Marys City Council Finance Committee members recommended paying one lump sum, too.

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