Ohio board revokes approval for 2,700-MW compressed air project

Due to a lack of forward movement by the developer, the Ohio Power Siting Board on Sept. 30 terminated a site certificate for a 2,700-MW compressed air energy storage facility in Summit County that had been planned by Norton Energy Storage LLC.

In May 2001, the board issued its opinion, order, and certificate granting the application of Norton Energy Storage LLC (NES). With this certificate, NES was authorized to develop a 2,700-MW compressed air energy storage facility within the city of Norton in Summit County.

In February 2006, NES filed a motion to extend the validity dates of the certificate by 30 months. The board then granted an extension of the certificate to November 2008. In 2009, the NES said it had been bought by FirstEnergy Solutions. Then in May 2011, it told the board project construction would start that same month, then in 2012 said that construction was suspended.

On June 17 of this year, NES was directed to file an affidavit by June 27 evidencing that the construction of the facility is no longer suspended and is currently or will be moving forward in compliance with the conditions of the certificate, or it would be recommended that the board invalidate the certificate. “To date, NES has not filed an affidavit or any other pleading in this docket regarding the continuous course of construction of the facility,” the Sept. 30 board order noted. So as of Sept. 30 it declared the certificate as invalid.

FirstEnergy Generation, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) had announced in November 2009 that it had purchased the rights to develop this facility on a 92-acre site in Norton, Ohio, from CAES Development Co. LLC. The transaction included rights to a 600-acre underground cavern, formerly operated as a limestone mine.

Compressed air facilities are something like pumped hydro, which both involve expending energy during low power demand periods (usually nights or weekends) to pump a medium (air or water) into a storage facility, then releasing that medium to generate electricity during peak power demand periods.

FirstEnergy said in 2009 that an initial phase of this project could involve installing two to four units capable of generating a minimum of 268 MW. With 9.6 million cubic meters of storage, the Norton Energy Storage Project has the potential to be expanded to up to 2,700 MW of capacity, the company added.

Said a FirstEnergy spokeswoman in an Oct. 9 e-mail to GenerationHub about this project: “FirstEnergy is not currently moving forward with development of the Norton Energy Storage Project since present electricity market conditions, including low energy prices and a lack of sufficient demand, do not support the project at this time. The company has been notified that the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has invalidated the construction certificate for the Norton Energy Storage Project. FirstEnergy continues to own the property on which the project would be developed, and its agreement with the city of Norton currently extends through 2025. FirstEnergy has no current plans to initiate the Norton Energy Storage Project. Should market conditions change in the future, the company would be required to re-apply for a new construction certificate in order to develop the site.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.