Reaching an agreement and developing a plan with an electric company to bring a large line to help power a potential end-user in Wapakoneta’s Jobs Ready Sites is critical, several Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) board members say.
WAEDC Executive Director Greg Myers said it is vital for the city to have an agreement or at least a plan in place with American Electric Power (AEP) to provide additional electricity to the 471-acre West Central Ohio Industrial Center site, if a company decides to locate there and requires a large electrical load.
“It is important for us to move forward with AEP to make sure we have a plan in place providing excess capacity to the point of where it needs to be, or if we don’t get it fully up to a 30 megawatts of excess capacity at least have in place a timeline in which it can be implemented,” Myers told board members Wednesday during their meeting. “I have been talking with John Courtney and we are trying to get the AEP engineers to finalize a plan and to get this done.”
Courtney, who owns Courtney and Associates of Findlay, is the city of Wapakoneta’s energy consultant and has worked on several deals for electrical power and other forms of energy to power the city.
Myers said he intends to contact people in Gov. John Kasich’s office, state Sen. Keith Faber’s office and other legislations to stress the importance of this industrial site and the need for access to additional electric power.
“I think it is important we focus on this for the next month and get this wrapped up by the end of the year,” Myers said.
WAEDC board member Teri Hirschfeld supported Myers’ approach, calling an agreement crucial.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the importance of this,” Hirschfeld said. “As we go forward and continue to say we are ‘Beyond Shovel Ready,’ this work will help us retain the statement of being ‘Beyond Shovel Ready.’
“This will allow us to continue to say we’ve done it and not that we just know about it,” she said. “I think this is really critical in our being ahead of the 8-ball on competitiveness.”
Mayor Rodney Metz shared that city administrators and AEP officials have been working on bringing additional power or at least are working on an agreement to bring additional power to the city.
“Things are coming together pretty well,” Metz said. “We haven’t had any commitment, at least to my knowledge, from AEP as far as the time frame to do an update either by virtue that we have a client or doing it ahead of the fact of us attracting somebody here.
The mayor said it would likely be done in two phases — one of which can be accomplished quickly and the second would take more time, but AEP officials told him the lengthier time frame still would not take too much time and could be completed before a company goes on-line.
Metz said he does want a plan completed and in place in the near future in case the city attracts an industrial user to the site.
“I know we need a plan in place so that everybody in the process realizes the time frames we are dealing with,” Metz said. “It just needs to be done so that we all know what we can provide when we talk with end-users — either the date that the project will be done or the time frame it will take to complete the project.
“I think this is very critical in attracting a new business,” the mayor told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “Depending on the load, the city can pick up 3 megawatts without any trouble, anything larger than that load we will need AEP’s cooperation in regard to the feed coming in because the limitations are not on the city’s side but on AEP’s side. The city’s system could handle an additional 30 megawatts without any problem.”
The West Central Ohio Industrial Center is certified by the state as a Job Ready Site and has rail service to the site as well as water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines. A new access road — Progress Drive — has been constructed providing a second route to Short Road from Commerce Drive.