By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
The prospects of a proposed steel and ironworks project in Franklin Furnace have dimmed recently after an energy company reportedly announced a diminished role in the plan.
FirstEnergy was tapped to purchase excess power from the proposed New Steel plant. Scioto County Commissioner Tom Reiser said FirstEnergy wants a smaller role in the project, however, leaving project organizers looking for another power company to offset losses from FirstEnergy.
A contract to purchase power would help with the financial solvency of the project. Without that additional revenue stream, the project could be in jeopardy.
“There’s still a lot of hard work going on,” Reiser said Thursday. Other energy companies are being courted and organizers are working with the financing options.
Reiser said he also hopes to get the Kasich administration involved.
“I encouraged them to get the message across that we’re not asking for money from the State of Ohio because, frankly, JobsOhio doesn’t have any money,” Reiser said. “But what we could use is some cheerleading and some telephone calls to try to move it (project) along.”
The steel plant as proposed is expected to employ about 2,500 people and a satellite industry, a German-based foundry that forges 200-ton pieces of steel mainly used in nuclear power plants, could be located adjacent to the plant in Franklin Furnace.
John Shultes of New Steel International said he remains cautiously optimistic.
“We are getting closer, yes,” Shultes said Thursday. “Nailing down — maybe not yet. But certainly getting closer.”
Is it a done deal?
“It’s done when I have the money in the bank,” Shultes said. “But we are certainly getting closer.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.