PDT Staff Writer
Those attending the Thursday morning business meeting at the Holiday Inn in Portsmouth received an update on the proposed New Steel plant, which is planned for the Franklin Furnace area if the venture is successful.
“There have been a couple of recent meetings with Duke Energy, the most recent was attended by (State) Representative (Terry) Johnson (R-McDermott),” Mike Otworth, an advisor to those involved in the project, said. “So we’re in the process of trying to see if a consortium of commercial partners can be assembled.”
A consortium would infuse needed cash and stability into the project.
One of the necessities for the plant, should it be built, is a power company to purchase the excess electricity that would be generated at the location and New Steel originally had an agreement with Duke Energy, but as time passed and Duke Energy became involved with a more pressing issue — completing their merger with Project Energy — so the discussion seemingly took a back seat. That merger was completed and Duke Energy then began to concentrate on the proposed rate increase requested from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which they received earlier in the year.
Will there be more meetings with Duke Energy?
“The answer to that question is yes,” Otworth told the Daily Times. “And I think they are trying to work on a list of actions to try to take going forward, so I’m sure there will be subsequent meetings.”
Otworth said financial support for the project is critical.
“Obviously there is a lot of money that has to be raised in equity and debt in a project this size,” Otworth said.
Otworth said New Steel has hired a consultant, Growth Squared, out of Washington, D.C.
“I’ve had several long phone conversations with Chris Chafe, the president of Growth Squared, about the strategy,” Otworth said. “I think he will prove to be helpful to New Steel.”
Otworth, a successful businessman, President of Green Ocean Innovation in the Melbourne, Fla. area, has joined forces with local business leaders attempting to make the New Steel project a reality, through the urging of Ohio Governor John Kasich.
“John Shultes (CEO of New Steel) is currently in the middle east. He has some contacts there that could be potential investors,” Otworth said. “He’s meeting with them this week.”
Several months ago Shultes traveled to Germany and met with officials at Siemens, in another attempt to gain financial investment in the project that would bring much-needed jobs to southern Ohio.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.